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Dr Margaret Ikpoh delves into the critical yet often underappreciated contributions of Black women in tackling health inequalities in the UK. Through poignant examples, Dr Ikpoh highlights the transformative role of inclusive research in advancing a more equitable healthcare landscape.

Health inequalities faced by Black women in the UK are the result of a complex interplay of social, economic, and environmental determinants. They have played a crucial but often overlooked role in advancing health and care research in the United Kingdom. Their contributions have not only enriched our understanding of healthcare but have also paved the way for more inclusive research practices.

So why does inclusion matter? Well, we know inclusive research practices are the cornerstone of a more equitable healthcare system. The challenge however is 75% of Black people aged between 18-34 said they felt discriminated against by health care professionals.

Discrimination and systemic biases can therefore lead to lower engagement which in turn lends itself to poorer health outcomes and a lack of trust in healthcare services. 

Poorer outcomes have contributed to the stark statistics which highlight the fact that Black people are four times more likely to be detained in a mental health institution, die in pregnancy, and at the height of the pandemic, die from Covid-19.

Black women's voices and perspectives bring unique insights and experiences to the table. Ensuring that research projects actively involve and address their concerns is vital for tackling disparities and advancing healthcare for all.

Black women are spearheading community-based research, which is essential to identify and address these disparities effectively.

Communities of practice pre-Covid, previously thought of as “hard to reach”, we of course know were “hardly reached” and place-based care has been a powerful tool in establishing that reach and involving affected communities.

Examples of champions who are making a difference include, Professor Bola Owolabi, who has been a force of nature championing NHS England’s Core20PLUS5 approach to narrowing healthcare inequalities using data and insights for quality improvement in marginalised communities across England.

Dr Chic- Chi Ekhiator who leads the A.T Beacon Project, a health initiative of Ascension Trust working on the ground in the heart of neighbourhoods in London to address health inequalities.

Dr Onyi Okonkwo Chair of the Birmingham and Lewisham African and Caribbean Health Inequalities Review (BLACHIR) Task Force who through collaboration with community groups and system representatives, has relentlessly worked to bridge gaps and foster genuine partnerships.

Dr Faye Bruce who Chairs the board of directors of the Caribbean and Afro Health Network (CAHN) continues to drive a positive impact on the health inequalities agenda in terms of improving health outcomes for Black and Asian people.

Having relatable figures has inspired a wave of the next generation of leaders, such as Dr Itunu Johnson who is the EDI lead for the RCGP Northwest London Faculty board and launched the Health Equity and Advocacy Learning (HEAL) programme enabling a path for those who embark on it, to an understanding how to provide more equitable healthcare for Black lives.

Dr Olufikayo Bamidele is a Research fellow in my hometown (Hull) has research interests which include public health, psychosocial aspects of cancer survivorship and reducing health inequalities in cancer and other chronic illnesses.

I call upon more Black Women to engage in health and care research, contributing their expertise experiences and perspectives.  The Centre for Research Equity is committed to fostering inclusion and rigor in research where we can build a future where health is truly equitable, addressing the unique needs of Black communities in the UK and beyond.

By celebrating the remarkable contributions of Black women in research, we recognise that their work not only shapes our understanding of health and care but also drives us towards a more just and inclusive future. Their legacy is a testament to the transformative power of research and the enduring impact of their dedication.

I salute you!

- Margaret Ikpoh


Margarets biography:

Margaret Ikpoh is a GP Partner at Holderness Health, a practice for 36,000 patients in East Yorkshire and has worked there for 12 years. She is the current Royal College of General Practitioners Vice Chair for Professional Development.

She is the practice lead for research and has had previous roles with the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber as a research champion for First5 GPs and AITs.

She is also the former Associate Director for Primary Care for Hull York Medical School and is a GP Trainer.

She was also the former co-Chair for the regional Primary Care Workforce Group with NHS England & Improvement for the North-East and Yorkshire Regional People Board and is still an active member.

At the RCGP, she has been involved in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Task groups and was awarded Fellow of The Year at the 2021 RCGP Inspire Awards ceremony and received a highly recommended award at the National BAME awards in 2022.

In 2022 she was voted one of HSJ’s top 50 most influential Black, Asian and minority ethnic figures in health.

In 2023 she was awarded an Honorary Professorship at Hull York Medical School