Black and Minority Ethnic BME

Black and Minority Ethnic BME

According to the 2011 Census, around 4% of Wales’ population comes from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds, an increase from 2.1% of the population of Wales in 2001. The areas with the highest proportions of minority ethnic groups, as shown in the 2011 Census, were Cardiff (15.2 per cent), Newport (10.1 per cent) and Swansea (5.9%).

In a public health context, it is recognised that people from BME groups can experience higher incidences of specific conditions. For example, the 2004 Health Survey for England highlighted a higher risk of diabetes in Black Caribbean, Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi men and women than shown in the white population. The Health Survey also showed that 40% of Bangladeshi men smoked, compared to a rate of 24% in all men. 

Access to services can also be impacted by language issues, where English is not the first language of a service user. Public health projects and initiatives should make every effort to provide materials and support in a range of languages, to ensure an equitable and effective service according to local community need.

The 2010 Equality Act (Statutory Duties) (Wales) Regulations 2011 provides a number of duties for public sector bodies in Wales to follow. This Act seeks to ensure that public authorities and those carrying out a public function consider how they can work pro-actively to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations with minority populations. Included in a list of ‘protected characteristics’ to which this Act relates is ‘race’.


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Persistent inequalities are seen in the health of Pakistani and Bangladeshi women. Their illness rates have both been 10% higher than White women in 1991, 2001 and 2011.
ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE), Manchester University, Oct 2013

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