Everyday I take a stroll through international COVID-19 news. I am interested in how different countries around the word are being impacted by the virus and how its citizens are coping.
It was while doing this that I was made aware of an Institute for Fiscal Studies report that said, “Patients from Black African backgrounds are dying in United Kingdom hospitals at more than three times the rate of white British people”. In fact, about 75 percent of medical and care workers who have so far died of coronavirus in the UK have been from minority backgrounds.
Aljazeera news reported that, “In April, the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) said a third of critically ill COVID-19 patients in the UK were from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds”. It went on to say, “Last month, after calls for an inquiry grew, the right-wing Conservative-led government announced a formal review into why COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, appears to disproportionately affect BME communities in the UK”.
Why is COVID-19 killing poor people at a greater rate than their wealthy neighbours in the UK, and is that the case internationally? One chain of thought explores the theory that the unequal effects of the COVID-19 crisis on different ethnic groups are likely to be the result of a complex set of economic, social and health-related factors.
Poverty and poor health worldwide are inextricably linked. The causes of poor health for millions globally are rooted in political, social and economic injustices. Poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor health. Poverty increases the chances of poor health. Poor health, in turn, traps communities in poverty. Infectious and neglected tropical diseases kill and weaken millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people each year.
In bigger countries the reality of how health is impacted by poverty is a bit different than in some smaller island states. In Barbados, poor people have access to ‘free” healthcare and some medication is subsidized by the state. However, economic standings impact lifestyle choices and very poor and vulnerable people may have to make harsh choices – knowingly putting their health at risk because they cannot see their children go hungry, for example.
As far as diet is concerned, poverty has different realities in rural and urban areas. Rural communities often engage themselves in various forms of agricultural exploits. Thus fresh and healthy food is readily available. In urban areas land space is restricted and the most ready source of food is the local market or supermarket. Because food for urban communities comes with a cost most of the time, cheaper food options are often the first choice of the poor urban consumer. What compounds this reality is the fact that healthy food cost more than their unhealthy counterparts.
It stands to reason, that a disease such as COVID-19 which is detrimental to bodies with weak immune systems, will have devastating consequences in communities where food is their poison instead of their medicine.
One can almost call COVID-19 the poor people’s killer.
It is clear that understanding the role of each of these injustices, will require a better understanding of the virus itself; more data than is currently available and additional research. They’re those who are of the opinion that COVID-19 was designed to have the impact it is having on Black and minority communities.
On the other side of the fence, the African continent has thus far recorded the least number of COVID-19 cases of the earth’s continent’s.
One can only wonder, of the 235,136 deaths confirmed from COVID-19, how many were black/African descended people, what percentage of these people were considered economically vulnerable?? We are fully aware of the demographic of older people’s vulnerability to the disease, but is their a demographic of colour and class separation in that demographic?
Is the reality now, life is a thing money can buy, so the rich will live and the poor will die?
I end this article by noting that Barbadian rich and wealthy have not been able to raise $1,000,000 among themselves thus far: money that is intended to assist in a government call for those people to contribute to a national fund, that will provide an economic safety net for the poor and vulnerable of the society.
Written By Simba