Parliamentarians are being urged to help stamp out the organ shortage in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities by tackling taboos and championing donating in their constituencies.
Health minister Jackie Doyle Price is calling on MP colleagues to support her campaign to drive down inequalities on the organ transplant waiting lists.
Launching a new toolkit for MPs in Westminster on Wednesday, the minister for mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention is expected highlight the disparity in organ donation rates between black and Asian people and their white counterparts.
Only six out of every 100 people who have signed up to the NHS Organ Donor Register and listed their ethnicity are from BAME communities, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
People from black and minority ethnic groups represent 11% of the UK population, but make up over a third of the kidney transplant waiting list.
The toolkit, Organ Donation: Saving Lives in Black and Asian Communities, will provide MPs with information about donation rates in their own constituency, and support to encourage organ donation and challenge perceived risks and myths such as religious taboos.
Ms Doyle Price said black and Asian people will wait six months longer on average for a life-saving transplant than white people.
She stressed this was due to lower organ donation rates and the fact that black or Asian people are more likely to suffer from conditions which will require a transplant.
Ms Doyle Price added: “In order to change behaviour we need a proactive ground campaign to engage with all our communities and encourage more people to join the donor register.
“As MPs, we are well placed to join in such a campaign. We are trusted voices within our communities and we can engage directly with our local groups to address some of the myths and perceived barriers that exist around organ donation.”
The DHSC said that although many BAME patients can receive a transplant from a white donor, for many the best match will come from a donor from the same ethnic background.
It added that these groups are also much less likely to consent to donating a relative’s organs.
During the event at Parliament which brings together MPs of all parties, Ms Doyle Price will also be joined by donor families, transplant patients and medical professionals to talk about tackling the issue.