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Chronically Brown

Why health inequalities need to be addressed for the specific community

A guest blog from Sukhjeen Kaur, founder of Chronically Brown

Within healthcare, we have all been impacted by the ‘one size fits all’ approach implemented by the National Health Services. We understand and are aware that individuals are individual which need to be treated as such. More recently, ‘health inequalities’ have become a hot topic and with good reason. Ethnic minorities are more likely to suffer with the care provided for their health. Likewise, issues that affect this group such as wage gaps, systemic discrimination and cultural insensitivity have come to the forefront and highlighted the issues we face daily. Even recently we have seen the effects of COVID cases increasing in deprived and ethnic areas of the UK. However, an issue has been occurring within the recent work of health inequalities that is yet to be addressed.

Ethnic minorities refer to a wide range of people including those from Black and Asian backgrounds. However, with close evaluation these terms are broad and do not encapsulate the range of communities within them. For example, the continent Asia includes the subcontinents of Central Asia, East Asia, East-South Asia, South Asia, and the Western Asia. Each subcontinent has a range of cultures, religions, and races within the regions. Therefore, addressing health issues for all Asian backgrounds will neglect the specific Asian communities that are dealing with different health inequalities. Likewise, addressing health issues within the ’BAME’ cohort is ignoring the wider issue and neglecting possible ways to improve health outcomes. Within South Asian communities, we are aware that conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are prevalent. Within African or African Caribbean communities, conditions such as hypertension, sickle cell disease and prostate cancer are most common. By discussing all these health conditions and addressing all ethnic minorities together will let the people that require help fall through the cracks. After all, we are all individual and deserve healthcare that caters to that individuality.

Therefore, I created ‘Chronically Brown’. We empower and educate about disability specifically to the South Asian community. Alongside aiming to shatter the ‘BAME’ title that often refers to all ethnic minorities, we also aim to tackle the cultural viewpoints within the community. South Asian culture has often been the victim of ‘What will people say?’ mentality and therefore left most South Asians with an inadequate outlook. Shaming of disabilities has caused health issues and impairments to worsen. Whether it is the rise of ill mental health in South Asian communities or on-set of type 2 diabetes, the community has failed to reach out for help when needed. Knowing this, the project I am most proud of, from Chronically Brown, is the #desiabled campaign, which encapsulates disability and the South Asian identity together. This has been the start of previously stigmatised conversations around health and disability in South Asian culture. It has also been an outlet for those empowered by seeing more representation of themselves. A branch from our ‘desiabled’ campaign has been our community groups, where we hold a culturally sensitive space for disabled South Asians to talk about anything on their minds. These allow opportunity to break stigma around these conversations by normalising the highs and lows surrounding disability.

We hope Chronically Brown can become a worldwide movement for disabled South Asians as well as pave the way for how ethnic minorities should be treated in healthcare, research, and social settings. Remember our individuality is what makes us human.

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