As government’s review into the factors impacting health outcomes from COVID-19 in ethnic minority groups is well underway, we wrote to Professor Kevin Fenton, the National Director for Health and Wellbeing of Public Health England who is leading the review, about the level of exclusion from public services and support, as well as the statistical invisibility of the UK Latin American community.
Our letter to Public Health England outlines a number of Covid-19 challenges identified through research and the front-line support of our members, as well as a list of key recommendations to improve the response to the Latin American community, including:
- Ethnic recognition – Need to include a ‘Latin American’ category in data collection systems: This is particularly important for the Greater London Authority, nation-wide public agencies and local and health authorities.
- Individual Analysis Report: It is imperative to understand the impact of Covid-19 in the Latin American community. While this can’t be done using standard ONS categories, the implementation of an individual analysis report for the community can be a good step forward. It will not capture second generation Latin Americans but it will help paint the picture.
- Provide information in Spanish and Portuguese: information provided by Public Health England was distributed in 12 languages. None of them in Spanish or Portuguese, the main languages used by Latin Americans. It is crucial this is addressed to avoid conflicting messages.
- Employment rights: Government, trade unions, employers and other civil society groups need to increase awareness of employment rights and provide access to advice, given the large number of Latin Americans experiencing labour rights infringements.
- Public services and benefits: Statutory health providers, particularly those delivering primary care, need to tackle inequalities of access to health care facing Latin Americans. Public Health departments in areas of concentration should include Latin Americans in local Joint Strategic Needs Assessments to better understand the needs of the community. Take-up campaigns should outline available services, how they can be obtained and include details of eligibility. The focus should be on areas with significant Latin American populations.
- Immigration: Legal aid provision for immigration advice is vital for migrants with little or no understanding of English and the legal system in the UK such as Latin Americans. This is particularly needed for women experiencing violence who rely on such assistance to extricate themselves from violence in the home and other spheres.
- Supporting community services: Whilst there are concentrations of the Latin American population in certain wards and boroughs in London, it is a community spread across the capital. Funders and commissioners need to take account of this and ensure pan-London and sub- regional funds are available to support community organisations addressing the needs of the whole community.
Letter available here.