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Tackling inequalities often not a main priority in healthcare, says CQC

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Tackling inequalities often not a main priority in healthcare, says CQC

Tackling inequalities was “often not a main priority” for local health and care systems over the past year, the care regulator for England has said.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the pandemic had exposed and exacerbated inequalities, and most services demonstrated some understanding of these.

But it found that tackling inequalities “was often not a main priority for systems, or strategies to identify and tackle health inequalities were not yet well established”. Issues included poor accessibility of information in different languages for some people, varying service provision and access, and a lack of understanding of how people’s individual characteristics affected the care they needed.

The regulator said an example of this was the specific needs of people with a learning disability from black and minority ethnic groups. It also flagged that an increase in remote or digital care could be a barrier to people who cannot access technology or do not feel comfortable doing so.

The report comes as the government announces a £162.5m workforce retention and recruitment fund in an effort to hire and retain workers for the sector.

The ringfenced funding, available through the winter until the end of March, will help local authorities and care providers to go on a recruitment drive. It will also help with overtime payments, and support occupational health teams through a potentially grim winter.

The report found inequalities had also been exposed by the coronavirus vaccine rollout, with take-up lower in all minority ethnic groups compared with in the white population, and variances according to levels of deprivation.

The annual state of care report says: “Providers and representatives from the voluntary and community sector have told us that recovery needs to focus on addressing health inequalities, particularly those that were amplified by the pandemic. However, there were some concerns that a focus on waiting list backlogs for elective care will put the emphasis on clearing these at pace, instead of on where the need is greatest.”

The CQC said better use of data to understand the needs of people locally, and better NHS trust patient records and linkage with primary care data, could help reduce inequality.

It noted an NHS target that by 2024 three-quarters of women from black and minority ethnic groups – who tend to have poorer outcomes in childbirth – should receive care from the same person during pregnancy, birth and postnatal.

It said just half of the nine services it visited where it had concerns had active continuity of carer teams providing support to women identified as higher risk at the time of inspection. It said teams had been put on hold or disbanded, primarily owing to pandemic staffing issues.

The regulator said engagement by maternity services was often not targeted towards women from black and minority ethnic groups, and a lack of funding was a “major challenge to meaningful engagement”.

Jabeer Butt, the chief executive of the Race Equality Foundation, said it was “deeply worrying” that the regulator had said tackling inequalities was not often a main priority.

“Equally worrying is that many health inequalities are longstanding, with some evidence that action to address these has only been partially implemented,” he said. “It is deeply disappointing that while targets were set for ensuring pregnant black and minority ethnic women received continuity of care, the CQC found that only small numbers of women received this support and in some areas the teams were ‘put on hold or disbanded’.”

The CQC also found that the physical healthcare needs of people with a learning disability were not always taken into account. Some people struggled with access to services, which caused them distress and in some cases led to their health deteriorating.

In one care home for people with autism and/or learning disabilities, there was no assessment to consider what adaptations may be required to meet new residents’ needs. Residents were told they were being “silly” and incident reports said people were “whingeing” and “having paddies”.

The CQC said providers and systems would need to understand and manage the impact of the pandemic on people with a learning disability. “This includes ensuring that any health inequalities and specific needs relating to protected characteristics such as ethnicity, age and gender are part of a system-wide strategy,” it said.

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Health

AIDS Agency Chief Says 1 Out Of 100 Persons Positive In Kaduna

The Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr Isa Baka has said a survey had revealed that one out of 100 people is positive to the AIDS disease in the state.

Baka disclosed this speaking shortly after a walk in commemoration of the World AIDS Day, on Thursday in Kaduna.

The theme of the year’s’ World AIDS Day is “Equalise to End AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services’’.

He said the present statistics was a remarkable development against previous survey which gave 11 of every 100 people in the state.

Baka added that the AIDS prevalence in Kaduna, which is at 1.1, being a survey carried out by the state government itself, was later done at the national level, where that of Kaduna was confirmed as very accurate.

“At the national level, the prevalence of the virus (AIDS) was at 1.4 (four people out of 100 test positive), while that of Kaduna is confirmed to be 1.1, was in determination of the state government and KADSACA’s efforts to ensure minimal prevalence of the virus,” he said.

He said as part of efforts to continue reducing the prevalence of AIDS in the state, government initiated programmes across the 23 LGAs.

He said one of the UNICEF anchored programmes, which is the ‘Adolescent and Youths Living With HIV and AIDS’ programme, was present and effective in at least, 18 LGAs and 24 sites in the state.

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Health

Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Health

Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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