For the first time in over a century, the 2001 National Census has collected data on religious groups within Britain. These data have now been analysed and the findings reveal startling new evidence on the poor state of health of British Muslims.
|`For health professionals like me, this confirms my worst fears and reinforces the view that health should be a priority issue amongst Muslims and Islamic organisations.'
Overall, Muslims have the highest rates of reported ill-health, after allowances are made for the distribution of different age groups in the community.
Looking at the differences between genders, a worrying trend was that more Muslim women were likely to report ill-health than Muslim men.
Mirroring this is the appalling rate of disability amongst Muslims. Roughly a quarter of Muslim women and a fifth of Muslim men were reported as having a limiting long-term illness or disability which restricts daily activities. This is the highest for any religious group in Britain.
For health professionals like me, this confirms my worst fears and reinforces the view that health should be a priority issue amongst Muslims and Islamic organisations.
Recently the National Health Service has appointed an Equality Champion Mr Surinder Sharma.
In an interview to be presented in a future article for the MCBDirect website, I will be asking him what can be done to help address this very worrying state of affairs for British Muslims and how we Muslims can help.
British Muslim individuals, families, professionals, mosques, local communities and organisations at all levels need to work harder at improving health through engagement with the National Health Service and other stakeholders.
Let's remember that Islam extends well beyond our prayer mats into every corner of our daily lives.