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December 15, 2019
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Enough is enough: Time to break the circle of Roma health exclusion across Europe

Brussels, 5.4.2014 1:07, (ROMEA)

The need for better policies and funding for Roma inclusion, with an emphasis on local integration in Eastern Europe, is the focus of the Third Roma Summit – a landmark event organised today by the European Commission in Brussels.

After decades of revisiting the same issue, it is high time that the EU and its Member States got serious in tackling the factors that trap Roma populations in a cycle of ill-health and socio-economic marginalisation.

With an estimated 10-12 million population, the Roma represents Europe’s largest ethnic group. The Roma are one of the most disadvantaged communities living in the region. Most face discrimination and lack access to basic services such as education, healthcare, water, sanitation and housing – not to mention adequate working opportunities, conditions and wages. As a result, the Roma in Europe suffer worse health and a lower life expectancy than the rest of the general population.

"The discrimination and exclusion that Roma face everyday does not disappear at a doctor’s door," said Maja Saitovic Jovanovic, Program Coordinator with the Open Society Foundations. "When Roma are segregated from other patients, coerced into sterilisation, or given substandard treatment, all Europeans are degraded," pointed out Mrs Saitovic Jovanovic.

Being cut off from health services has a hard impact on Roma children and women.“Newborn deaths among Roma in Europe are several-fold higher than the rate of their neighbours. On top of this, levels of antenatal and postnatal healthcare, as well as infant and mother mortality rates for Roma communities in many European countries are disheartening,” noted Sebihana Skenderovska, Health Programme Coordinator at the Macedonian National Roma Centrum.

“An instrument largely overlooked by EU Member States and Brussels in advancing Roma’s access to community services are the Roma Health Mediators,” said Marius Radulescu, Coordinator at the Romanian Roma Center for Health Policy (SASTIPEN). “In Romania, a hasty decentralisation process and a lack of coherent legislation are holding up the implementation of the country’s Roma Health Mediation Programme. As result, local authorities refuse to hire these mediators, as in many cases, they do not even understand the mediator’s role,” pointed out Mr Radulescu.

With the occasion of this summit, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) has today published its position on Roma Health in Europe. “This paper rings alarm bells. While EU Member States bear the lion’s share of responsibility in implementing Roma integration policies at the national and local level, the European Commission has at its disposal numerous tools to help break the circle of Roma exclusion and enforce EU legislation on anti-discrimination and equal treatment,” commented Zoltán Massay-Kosubek, Policy Coordinator at EPHA.

Joint PR National Roma Centrum, The Roma Center for Health Policy – SASTIPEN, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
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