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NIHR stands by Black Lives Matter

Published: 11 June 2020

Black Lives Matter. We recognise the problem of racism and structural barriers to minority communities in the research system. We stand in solidarity against racism and anti-blackness and we acknowledge that as a research organisation we have more to do. We need more black voices within our leadership, in our committees, in our institutions and in the cohorts of people we fund. We must oppose racism in all its forms.

Jeremy Taylor, NIHR Director for Public Voice, says: “The killing of George Floyd and the protests that have followed are a stark reminder that racism remains and that it is a key factor in health inequality. NIHR is serious about promoting greater equality, diversity and inclusion.  We are making some progress, but we must be open to challenge to do better faster, as I am sure we can and should.”  

NIHR recognises the toll that COVID-19 is taking on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and we are funding research on COVID-19 and ethnicity with UK Research and Innovation to understand and address this.  

In partnership with the Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic Health in Leicester, we are addressing low participation by black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in research, in particular COVID-19 studies. Together with the Centre, NIHR is working to ensure that these communities have the information they need to take part and stay informed about COVID-19 research. In addition, we are supporting researchers to tackle the barriers that might stop some communities participating. 

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director of the Centre for BME Health, says: “The Centre for BME Health was set up with the sole purpose of reducing ethnic health inequalities. We do this by supporting people and organisations in planning and undertaking research and healthcare delivery involving and understanding minority and seldom heard communities.“A systematic review from our group shows that only six out of the 1,518 studies enlisted on reported that they are collecting data on ethnicity. This has to change if we want to address the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on black, Asian and minority ethnic people. 

“We are therefore committed to supporting the efforts to increase black, Asian and minority ethnic populations in studies conducted by NIHR and have developed resources to support the ongoing UK COVID-19-related studies and any other studies in the future. Without the vital knowledge achieved through research, we will be no closer to finding answers.”

Dr Louise Wood CBE, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care and co-lead of NIHR says: “As part of understanding how NIHR perpetuates racism endemic in the system, our Equality Diversity and Inclusion programme is examining matters such as who is involved in our decision-making, how we make decisions and who we fund. We will take the time to listen, understand and discuss the lived experience of black colleagues, communities and researchers and use their insights to shape a better future, one in which it is evident that opportunity is not influenced by skin colour or race.”


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