The Pandemic of Racism Must End


On Tuesday 2nd June 2020, Public Health England (PHE) published its report into the disparities in risks and outcomes of COVID-19, having previously announced it would conduct a review into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities.

This announcement was followed by claims that this had been censored and a key section of the relative risk of COVID-19 to specific groups was removed. This revelation comes in the midst of major protests across the globe against racism and police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA last month. Many experts and academics attribute the disproportionate deaths of people from BAME communities in the UK to prevailing structural and systematic racism in the country. Afua Hirsch believes that “the racism that killed George Floyd was built in Britain.”

Commenting, Musleh Faradhi, President of the Muslim Community Association said:

“We are dismayed that the report published by Public Health England systematically ignored the fact that out of the 200+ health workers and doctors who have tragically died as a result of Covid-19, the overwhelming majority (90%) hail from BAME backgrounds, in addition to failing to address the devastating impact of structural racism endemic throughout our entire healthcare system.”

The MCA believes that it is PHE’s responsibility to:

  • Acknowledge the UK’s debt to the staggeringly disproportionate sacrifices made by BAME health workers specifically and BAME communities in general – both with reference to recent death tolls and more widely.
  • Demonstrate transparency & accountability by including the plethora of evidence (1,000+) from organisations and responses submitted in good faith that have subsequently been redacted from its report published on June 2nd 2020.
  •  Identify and address the reasons behind greater vulnerability of BAME communities to Covid-19.
  • Offer credible recommendations on how to tackle the above in order to protect those most vulnerable as demanded by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the British Medical Association amongst others.

As it stands, the PHE report lacks credibility as it has failed to seriously tackle any of the above points.

The MCA further notes that despite being only 4.8% of the total population, 50% of Muslims in the UK experience poverty50% live in the most deprived local authority areas in the country and BAME staff comprise 44% of NHS staff nationally and 50% of London NHS staff.

We therefore reiterate our dismay of the covert nature in which this PHE report was released with minimum publicity, the whitewashing of responses from key stakeholders and the community engagement consultation process. We echo the MCB’s call for the publication of a full, uncensored report.

The MCA strongly believes that addressing systemic discrimination and injustice are key to rebuilding an effective and cohesive society; and that this is all the more critical during a pandemic such as this. MCA stands in solidarity with all who struggle against systemic injustice and institutionalised racism, asserts that ministers’ actions speak far louder than their words; and demands that pithy soundbites are accompanied by tangible action.


Notes to editors:

1. Muslim Community Association (MCA) is a British community-based organisation, which dates back to the 1970s through various formative outlets. As one of the largest membership-based organisations in the UK, MCA works in the fields of education, social welfare, justice, outreach and charity. Its members hail from different walks of life and with activities across the UK and mainland Europe through affiliate organisations.