Bridging the gap: a reflection on the importance of community outreach and health equity this Black History Month
13 October 2023
This blog post from Corina Cheeks for Black History Month, highlights the importance of community outreach in research and shares recent work in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences to address racialised health disparities.
This Black History Month, we reflect on the importance of community outreach in research and celebrate the work that researchers and staff in our department continue to do to understand the complex landscape of health inequalities and its impact on the wider Black Community and the healthcare system.
As the department continues its world-class research, we highlight some examples of how our colleagues work together to share learnings and implement real change in primary health care outcomes for people from Black and other racially minoritised backgrounds. The department maintains its commitment to Equality Diversity and Inclusion by extending the reach of our research to include diverse people and communities and embedding EDI in our culture. More information can be found in this blog.
In May this year, Dr Tanvi Rai, a Senior Researcher in the department convened a seminar on Race and Health: ‘Race and Health: Reckoning with the past and present to secure better futures’. The seminar brought together experts and academics with the common goal of understanding the complex relationship between racism, colonialism, and health inequities. Featuring a series of short presentations from members of the Race & Health Network and contributors to the Lancet 2022 series on racism and health, the seminar also included inter-disciplinary panel discussions and a Q&A with academics from NDPCHS and the Medical Humanities Programme. The seminar addressed some of the multifaceted and often sensitive elements of race inequalities, but also demonstrated methods being deployed to address these differences and to continue learning in this area.
In March this year, Tanvi and colleagues from the department (Sharon Dixon, Bakita Kasadha, Anna Dowrick and Michelle Yeung) also hosted and participated in a health outreach event in partnership with Oxford City Council, local Community Champions, and Transition Lighthouse at Blackbird Leys Community Hall. The venue's location was carefully selected to ensure inclusion of those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. The impact of these inequalities is significant, as ten of Oxford’s neighborhood areas are the most deprived in the country, with life expectancy up to a decade earlier than those living in wealthier parts of the city.
Of the 50 female members who attended, the majority identified as being from a racially minoritised background. The focus of the day was women’s health and topics covered included period poverty, HIV and infant feeding decisions, Long Covid, and menopause. Public participants described the event as ‘joyful’ and ‘warm’ and shared candid accounts of their own lived experiences.
Tanvi said: ‘I wanted us to think about racialised health inequalities from interdisciplinary perspectives, in order that we make some progress in engaging with some of the stickier and more complicated challenges that lie within this topic.’
The inspiring work being undertaken by the department is just the beginning. There is more to be done in this area and there is a clear commitment in the department to continue with this work.
Dr Paula Wray, Senior Manager of the NIHR ARC Oxford and Thames Valley (hosted within the department), and Senior manager of the Centre for Research Equity said:
'As we continue to tease apart the complex dynamics of racialised health disparities, the call to action for our department is clear: we need to amplify our efforts in community partnership and continue to embed diversity and inclusivity in every facet of our research and working.
Initiatives started this year include the Centre for Research Equity, which launched earlier this year, and the NIHR Race Equity and Diversity in Careers Incubator, co-led with Birmingham University, which launches in January 2024.
Only through our collective action and a sustained commitment to these principles, can we drive meaningful change in health and care outcomes, honouring our department's ethos of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.'
What to read next
2 November 2022
Professor Richard McManus, NDPCHS Research Committee Chair, reflects on putting into practice the department's commitment to supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion as part of our Research Strategy