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Learning the lessons of the past to restore the nation’s health and prevent widening health inequalities post-COVID-19

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A healthy population is one of any nation’s most important assets. We have known for a long time that not everyone has the same opportunity to access the things they need to lead a healthy life, such as good quality work and safe secure stable housing. Now we can see that the COVID-19 pandemic is replicating and exacerbating deep-rooted health inequalities. Without concerted action, this health crisis will also become a health inequalities crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought health inequalities into sharp focus. While every part of the population has been affected by the current crisis, some communities have been hit much harder both by the virus itself and by the measures taken to control its spread.

Evidence is starting to emerge, for example, of the unequal impact of the shutdown of the economy. For example a recent survey of UK households found that the lowest earners have been worst hit by loss of earnings, with the most severe losses for single parents.

The uneven impact of COVID-19 has also highlighted the inequalities faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Recent data shows that some ethnic groups are at much higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than the rest of the population (e.g. Black men are four times more likely to have died of COVID-19 than their White peers).

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