Ethnic Health Research Centre set up
By Prasun Sonwalkar
A centre to study health-related issues of the Asian community has been set up in Leicester, a town that has a large population of Gujarat origin.
Health issues for ethnic minority populations are a major concern for the delivery of equitable health care in the UK. The investigation of disease patterns and disease progression in ethnic minority populations, and service delivery for the ethnic minority community are a priority for the National Health Service in Leicestershire.
The establishment of the Leicester Centre for Ethnic Health Research will enable a co-ordinated approach to ethnic health research for the first time enabling local researchers to work with local communities, which will bring health benefits for the population.
The research centre is a joint initiative between the local NHS and universities.
Professor Sally Davies, NHS Director of Research and Development, said: ?The healthcare community in Leicester has developed much R&D expertise in response to the ethnic diversity of its local community. I warmly welcome the establishment of the Leicester Centre for Ethnic Health Research. It will help establish and support the R&D partnerships to provide the evidence base we need to improve health care for our ethnically diverse population.?
Asians face old age support problems
Future generations of British Asians have low expectations of family support in old age, says a new study.
A new piece of research carried out to investigate the attitudes to, and financial planning for care in old age revealed startling changes in the aspirations and expectations of life in old age among middle-aged Gujarati and Bangladeshi people in the East Midlands.
The University of Leicester research was carried out by Dr Savita Katbamna, Research Fellow, and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
The current generation of middle-aged Gujarati and Bangladeshi people who arrived in Britain in the early 1970s and 1980s, and have spent much of their adult life in Britain, are now approaching retirement age.
The research was based on discussion groups and face-to-face interviews with men and women aged between 40 and 65 from the two communities and included people from a wide range of social and economic background.
The influence of traditional cultural values and beliefs in the exchange of intergenerational obligations between generations remains relatively strong within these communities.
However, aspirations of the life in old age and expectations of care and support from family and the state are beginning to be revised by the need for self-determination, the sense of ?belonging? to the mainstream British society and by the vagaries of social and economic climate in Britain. Some of the report'skey findings indicate that:
Physical and mental limitations, cultural values and behaviour were viewed as more important markers of old age than chronological age.
There was strong desire to lead an active and fulfilled life in old age which would meet their intellectual and recreational requirements.
Although a desire to maintain close family ties remained a high priority many participants in the study, Gujarati women in particular, were keen to emphasis that they would not choose to live in the same household as their children in old age.
Participants were concerned that their quality of life in old age could be undermined by the recent changes in the provision of health and social care support. Bangladeshi participants generally had a lower expectation of longevity and of living a disability-free life in old age than their Gujarati counterparts. This pessimism was a reflection of the high level of social and material disadvantages experienced by many Bangladeshi participants.
Whilst participants in both communities stressed that children were ?morally? obliged to look after their elderly parents, they believed the state had the ?legal? obligation to provide both social and financial support in old age. Our findings challenge the assumption that in the future the extended family will provide support for older people.
The level of preparation participants had made for income in retirement varied greatly between and within these two communities. Those insecure and well-paid employment were generally better prepared than those on low pay and those who had experienced a long period of unemployment or were economically inactive.
(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on [email protected])