The 2.4 million strong Southern Asian community, originating from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are now the largest ethnic minority group in the UK and make up over 4% of the UK population (i). However, despite representing a significant proportion of the UK population health statistics comparing the Southern Asian community with the general population in the UK highlight significant health inequalities (ii).
Pakistani and Bangladeshi men have rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) 60% to 70% higher than men in the general population (ii).
The rate of premature deaths due to coronary heart disease in the Southern Asian community is 46%, increasing to 51% for Southern Asian women (ii).
Obesity levels in the Pakistani community are significantly higher than the general UK population, (26% compared to 19%) (ii).
Those of Southern Asian origin are more than five times more likely to develop diabetes than those in the general UK population (ii).
For these reasons, London's Islamic Cultural Centre, working with healthcare company Roche, hosted a massive Health and Wellbeing Clinic at the beginning of September to specifically target London's Islamic community and increase awareness of a variety of health concerns, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses.
Approximately 700 visitors attending the Health and Wellbeing Clinic, which took place between the 4-6th September, underwent a free, confidential, one-to-one health check, which included weight, height, waist circumference, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol assessments, performed by a qualified healthcare professional.
Nurses and dieticians also provided personalised advice about certain lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, which can reduce the risks associated with type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Dr Shuja Shafi, Consultant Microbiologist, Health Protection Agency Collaborating Laboratory, North West London Hospitals NHS Trust and Chairman of the Health & Medical Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain commented, `The Government is addressing diabetes and coronary heart disease through National Service Frameworks which aim to improve health and reduce inequalities, but there is a lot the Muslim community can do for themselves to increase awareness, educate and empower people to make informed decisions about their lifestyle and health. A focused event such as this one, held in collaboration between the Mosque and a healthcare company provides an excellent example of what can be achieved to reach the diverse Muslim community comprising different ethnic groups.'
`We are delighted to be working in collaboration with the Mosque and the UK's Muslim community on such as positive and worthwhile project,' said John Melville, Managing Director of Roche in the UK. `We hope that this will be the first of a series of similar health awareness projects that will highlight health issues to ethnic minority groups in the UK.'
Several key charities, such as the British Heart Foundation, QUIT, the National Kidney Federation (NKF), the NAZ Project London, HCV Alert and TB Alert were also present at the event to provide advice and information.
(i) Census 2001 National Report- Ethnicity. National Statistics. Census 2001 National Report. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/default.asp
(ii) The Health of Minority Ethnic Groups in The Health Survey for England 1999. Joint Health Surveys Unit, National Centre for Social Research, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Royal Free and University College Medical School
(iii) Petersen S et al., Coronary heart disease statistics British Heart Foundation Statistics Database 2003 British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group. Department of Public Health, University of Oxford.