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Image by Mufid Majnun

Saathi House comment on coronavirus in UK Bangladeshi community

June 19, 2020

Coronavirus is disproportionately affecting England's Bangladeshi community. Saathi House interim executive director Mashkura Begum speaks to The Guardian about contributing factors.

'A report published by Public Health England (PHE) this month, on the impact of coronavirus on minority ethnic groups, found that people of Bangladeshi heritage are dying at twice the rate of their white counterparts."

Mashkura Begum, a charity worker who says the number of deaths and cases has devastated the Bangladeshi community in the West Midlands. Begum, who is the interim executive director at Saathi House, an inner-city women’s organisation, believes there is a combination of reasons for the higher death toll.

“It is a lot more sophisticated and not just about austerity,” she said. “Many Bangladeshi people are key workers so [are] at higher risk, then there was the language barrier which made it really difficult for people to understand the severity of the disease and social distancing probably didn’t get picked up until slightly later and of course, yes, there is the problem with the health postcode lottery.”

Another factor that has played a significant part, according to Begum, is that once the community had fully appreciated the seriousness of the situation they began to suffer in silence.

“What you have here is a very compliant bunch of people and once the message had got across to them about how bad it was they stopped trying to get help. They didn’t want to be a burden on the NHS. I heard so many stories of people having symptoms but just staying at home, and then dying. It has been so traumatic,” she said.

Unlike in other BAME communities where the disease has affected particular age groups, in the Bangladeshi community, anecdotally at least, it seems to have been indiscriminate, with victims of all ages.'

Read the full article in The Guardian here.

(Above photo courtesy of Mufid Majnun)

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