The European Public Health Alliance has once again reiterated calls for Roma health to be put at the heart of the new Roma framework after 2020 in its response to the EU consultation on the revised Council Recommendations and Communication on the post-2020 EU Strategic Framework for Roma Inclusion. Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe, but also a population group dis-proportionally affected by health inequalities caused by generational poverty and social exclusion, resulting in poor health status, shorter life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates. The European Framework for Roma Inclusion until 2020 has failed to improve Roma health and achieve its ambitious goal to close the health gap.
EPHA calls include the extension of universal health coverage to disadvantaged groups such as Roma; increased attention for Roma women’s health and better protection of the sexual and reproductive rights; stronger political commitment and social investment to improve the availability and affordability of health and preventive services; more mental health services; and measures to tackle effects of air pollution on Roma children and the elderly and the health consequences of ground contamination caused by the lack of running water and sanitation, to reduce the environmental health risks to which Roma are often more vulnerable.
The complexity of the social, economic and environmental factors affecting the health of Roma population requires an inclusive and comprehensive approach which looks beyond the area of health alone. Policy solutions should address all the factors responsible for the poorer health experienced by Roma communities, which EPHA has already discussed here.
Improving Roma health should be a top priority for the post-2020 policy framework as it is a prerequisite for achieving other social, economic and environmental objectives to improve Roma lives. Finally, the framework should promote the bridge between Roma-related policy and major European policy initiatives such as Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and the European Green Deal so that the measures designed to achieve “a just transition” for all apply equally across the European Union.