Together to improve the public health situation of Roma

In the experience of civil society actors working with poor communities, many social factors determine the health status of people living in poverty.

Why is it important to improve access to health care for Roma?

 The fact that life expectancy for Roma is 10 years lower than for non-Roma requires cross-sectoral cooperation, as these social factors (poor housing, low access to health services, inadequate information for patients, limited infrastructure in Roma settlements, poor living conditions, extreme poverty, geographical and social exclusion) are all closely linked to the health status of people living in poverty.

Previous research suggests that municipalities with little social, economic and political capacity are more likely to suffer environmental damage and harm, and therefore less likely to reap environmental benefits. Among the inhabitants of these settlements, those living in excluded settlements are also the most affected. They are predominantly of lower socio-economic status, less educated and disproportionately affected by environmental damage from hazardous waste, incinerators, factories and abandoned industrial sites. They find it difficult to access environmental benefits such as clean drinking water, adequate sewage treatment facilities or utility services. In these settlements, public environmental services are either outside the upper class or are generally concentrated in areas where environmentally controversial practices (e.g. illegal dumping) are concentrated.

For all these reasons:

  • Moving from a culture of guilt and fearlessness to a culture of trust and cooperation to generate change.
  • Replace social dependency and paternalism with active citizenship, promote respect for human rights, good governance, participatory democracy and inclusive implementation.
  • The social determinants of the public health situation and health status of the Roma population living in poverty require active local cooperation between stakeholders, measures including a joint action plan and changes to a more efficient allocation of local resources to promote better health status of Roma settlements.

What do we want to achieve with the programme?

The main objectives of the project are to gather relevant evidence on the social and environmental determinants of Roma health, to strengthen the need for research-based evidence to influence relevant public policies and to mobilise local Roma communities to engage in public participation, intercultural mediation and advocacy, leading to long-term improvements in their health.

What are we doing to do this?

  • Review of local health and environment policies
  • We make a tangent map
  • We carry out household investigations
  • We produce case studies
  • We run training courses
  • We work with intercultural mediation
  • Establish a community action group, map the public health and environmental situation of Roma residents
  • Institutional working group set up, mapping the public health and environmental situation, involving the institutions concerned
  • Participatory media project activities on health and environmental issues
  • Process evaluation
  • Developing and implementing a public health mini project together
  • We organise local campaigns
  • We organise national workshops

In practice, the intercultural mediators in the Mésztelep tell us how they are succeeding in winning more and more people to join the community action:


What results do we expect?

  • The studies will influence local and national public policies, raise awareness of health and environmental risks affecting Roma, and propose more effective measures to improve the situation of Roma.
  • Strengthening the advocacy potential of Roma communities in the field of public health and environmental justice, developing active citizenship attitudes
  • Strengthening cooperation between community members and relevant institutions
  • Campaigns will give visibility to the good practices generated by the project, leading to improvements in public health and the environment at local level.

Our partners:

  • PAD Foundation for Environmental Justice
  • Roma Press Centre

    Want more information on this topic? Contact us!