Comparing policies to tackle ethnic inequalities in health: Belgium 1 Scotland 4

Vincent Lorant, Raj Bhopal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ethnic-minority health is a public health priority in Europe. This study compares strategies for tackling ethnic inequalities in health from two countries, Scotland and Belgium. Methods: We compared the countries using the Whitehead framework. Official policy documents were retrieved and reviewed and two databases related to immigrant health policies were also used. Ethnic inequalities in health were compared using the UK and Belgian Censuses of 2001. We analysed the recognition of the problem, the policies and the services and described ethnic health inequalities. Results: Scotland has recognized the problem of ethnic inequalities in health, thanks to better data and the Scottish Government has come up with a bold strategy. Belgium is a later starter, unable to properly monitor ethnic inequalities. In addition, there is no clear government commitment to tackling either health inequalities or ethnic inequalities in health. Both countries provide health-care services to ethnic minority groups through the mainstream services, although ethnic minority groups have more choice in Belgium than in Scotland. Overall, ethnic heath inequalities are lower in Scotland than in Belgium. Conclusion: Scotland has provided a more advanced and comprehensive response to tackling ethnic inequalities in health than Belgium. It has acknowledged that discrimination exists and that ethnic minority groups may have different needs. Belgium still assumes non-discrimination in health care and effectively denies the need for policy to tailor services to meet these needs. In Scotland, public organizations have been made accountable for promoting equality in health. This is an important contribution to European health policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-240
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • ethnic groups
  • migration
  • public policy
  • health inequality


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