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The health status of Roma

Roma health has received little attention in European public health circles. Data about the living           conditions and health status of Roma is hard to find. Across Europe, a lack of trust and negative experiences with health systems keep Roma people from engaging with health professionals, which results in a lack of awareness by policy-makers of the specific health needs of Roma communities (Open Society Institute).

The majority of Roma in Great Britain are registered with a GP, although some travel back to their countries of origin to access healthcare systems. This is not the situation in Northern Ireland where many Roma have no access to health care. Roma often live in extended families, socially isolated, where overcrowding is a serious issue. These extended family groups can, on occasion, present a higher than expected incidence of genetic diseases and disorders. Contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, scabies and pediculosis can be found in some Roma communities in the UK. Roma have lower life expectancy compared to the general population. In their countries of origin, many Roma have experienced discrimination by healthcare personnel, which in severe cases has resulted in coercive sterilisation. Vaccination rates are low among children. Sources: The Movement of Roma from new EU Member States, Breaking the Barriers: Romani Women and Access to Public Healthcare, Data in focus report: The Roma.

Equality provided information on Roma and their health status for a NHS health staff toolkit called Migrant Health Matters for TS4SE in 2011.

Equality is also providing information on the health status of Roma for the Department of Health to support health and wellbeing boards ensure that the needs of Roma are reflected in joint strategic needs assessments.

If you are interested in working with Equality to train health practitioners in Roma culture and issues, please contact Alan Anstead.

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