Home AFRICAN STORY Black Women Suffer Racial Discrimination In UK Maternal Healthcare

Black Women Suffer Racial Discrimination In UK Maternal Healthcare

by InlandTown Editor
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According to a conference, there is a significant racial disparity in maternal healthcare outcomes in the UK, which is being exacerbated by unconscious bias in the healthcare system.

The Black Maternal Health Conference in the UK also acknowledged that a key factor contributing to poor maternal health outcomes among black women is the issue of healthcare professionals failing to listen to them.

The Motherhood Group organized a conference aimed at drawing attention to the racial disparities in maternal healthcare, with a particular focus on the differences in maternal mortality rates among white, ethnic minority, and black women in the UK.

A report released by MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK) states that compared to white women, Black women in the UK have four times higher chances of dying during pregnancy and childbirth, while Asian women have twice the likelihood of dying.

In 2021, the Office for National Statistics reported that the rate of stillbirths among black babies was 6.9 for every 1,000 registered births, which is higher than the rate of 3.6 for every 1,000 registered white babies.

According to the PA Media, Sandra Igwe established The Motherhood Group, an NGO, in 2016 after the difficult birth of her daughter. She stated that the occasion provides a chance to “connect the community, stakeholders, professionals, and government,” eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, and foster progress in enhancing black maternal healthcare.

“There are so many stats – so why wouldn’t we have a whole day’s conference dedicated to addressing these, just scratching the surface of some of the stats?”

Charities and activists have been raising alarm bells about the dangerous consequences of unconscious bias in maternal healthcare for many years. Igwe co-chaired the Birthrights inquiry, a year-long investigation into racial injustice in the UK maternity services, which heard testimony from women, birthing people, healthcare professionals and lawyers and concluded that “systemic racism exists in the UK and in public services”.

The study revealed that numerous inequalities in maternal outcomes and experiences among women of black and ethnic minority origin arise from various factors, including inadequate physical and psychological safety, neglect and disbelief, caregiver racism, dehumanization, structural barriers, and insufficient representation and culture in the workforce.

During the London event, discussions centered on addressing the challenges of enhancing black maternal health, which includes tackling service inaccessibility, inadequate data, and negative stereotypes surrounding black women.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Natalie Darko, an associate professor of health inequalities at the University of Leicester, highlighted the negative impact of stereotypes that portray black women as “strong” and perpetuate the myth that they don’t experience pain.

According to Darko, these stereotypes have an adverse effect on the care that black women receive. She cited her personal experience of giving birth to her three children in hospital corridors, despite raising concerns about the urgency of the situation to the medical staff.

She noted that medical professionals often view black women as problematic even before they arrive, making it difficult for them to receive adequate care.

Also speaking at the event, Stacy Moore, a psychologist, addressed the issue of stigmatization that Black women encounter and how it detrimentally affects their mental wellbeing.

Moore highlighted the power of the prevailing narratives about Black women that influence how they are perceived and treated by others.

She, however, emphasized that such views ultimately contribute to the erosion of Black women’s mental health and their sense of place in the world.

“When I have attended conferences that seek to address health inequalities it’s usually that you don’t see mothers, pregnant women from our communities there,” she told PA Media.

“Black women are disproportionately negatively affected in their pregnancy and postnatal period. We are the least likely to have pain relief.”

“Why are we reporting that we’re the least likely to feel like we’ve been treated with kindness, care and respect? Why are we the most likely to have complications and die as a result of our pregnancy? Why are we the most likely to have postnatal depression but the least likely to have access to care or follow-up treatment?” Moore said.

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