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Views And Reviews

Structural racism is a fundamental cause and driver of ethnic disparities in health

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 12 April 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n938
  1. Mohammad S Razai, academic clinical fellow in primary care1,
  2. Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care and public health2,
  3. Aneez Esmail, professor of general practice3
  1. 1St George’s University of London, UK
  2. 2Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, UK
  3. 3Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care, University of Manchester, UK
  1. mrazai{at}
    Follow Mohammad S Razai on Twitter @mohammadrazai
    Follow Azeem Majeed on Twitter @Azeem_Majeed
    Follow Aneez Esmail on Twitter @aneezesmail

The UK government report on race disparities is a missed opportunity and will lead to a worsening of systemic inequalities

That structural racism is an important factor in ethnic disparities in health will come as no surprise to anyone who has looked at the evidence. Several decades of research clearly show that racism in all its forms—in particular, structural racism—is a fundamental cause of ethnic differences in socioeconomic status, adverse health outcomes, and inequities in health.1

The much delayed UK government report on race disparities has devoted 30 pages to disparities in health. The report claims that “for many key health outcomes, including life expectancy and overall mortality, ethnic minority groups have better outcomes than the white population.” It further claims that “genetic risk factors” along with cultural and behavioural factors have led to the disparities seen during the covid-19 pandemic.

The report’s section on health claims to undo several decades of irrefutable peer reviewed research evidence on ethnic disparities, previous governments’ reports, and independent reviews all reaching similar conclusions: ethnic minorities have …

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