Faye Bruce is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University in the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care. She is also the Chair of the Caribbean & African Health Network for Greater Manchester, an organisation established with a vision to transform the way Caribbean and African Community access appropriate health information and shape healthcare systems as a result.
Stress Kills: Despite many acts of parliament and recommended industry guidelines, deep racial disparities persist in health. By favouring qualitative research over quantitative, Faye began to uncover some of the reasons why current legislation was not adequate to end racial disparities in health. A major factor Faye identified was heightened allostatic load, or ‘wear and tear on the body’.
This condition is caused by chronic stresses directly and indirectly caused as a result of structural and everyday racism. Trauma is also a factor that relates to this condition. She states how as Black people, we not only carry our own traumatic experiences, but must live through and be reminded constantly of how our experience relates to an intergenerational condition reproduced along lines of race.
Listening to Testimony: The Caribbean and African Health Network (CAHN) came about as a result of Faye’s research process which aims to stop work being conducted in silos. She believes that the more we gather around our common experiences, the greater our ability to identify the changes we need to make, and speak with a united voice to enact a new approach to improve our health. The key part of the process commonly missing is locating what specific changes need to be made.
Problems can be identified through analysing the data, but it’s only through listening to the testimony of those affected and sharing what we find that we can discover solutions. The CAHN infrastructure allows information collected from communities to travel to authorities and decision makers, while also allowing information to effectively travel into communities, empowering them with knowledge.
COVID-19: The statistic that Black and Asian people are four times as likely to contract Covid-19 has triggered calls for a public inquiry. In response to this statistic, combined with the national praise of healthcare workers, Faye states how “Black people play the role of frontier, acting as a protective yet insufficiently protected barrier”.
Hypocrisy underpins the outpouring of sentiment for health care workers versus the reality of racial disparities in the death toll. While there is a quick response to reduce freedoms in order to stop people spreading the virus further, there is little interest in understanding and reducing racial disparities in the disproportionate infection rate.