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In Slovakia, as elsewhere in Europe segregated Roma face much greater difficulties accessing and receiving standard healthcare services compared to other citizens.

An new briefing by EPHA Roma Health Fellow, Marcela Adamova and Andrej Belak, Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology, Slovak Academy of Sciences looks at the drivers for the poorer healthcare Roma endure in Slovakia, and the way in which segregation feeds a vicious circle of poor mutual understanding, communication, practices, experiences, emotions and stereotypes between segregated Roma and any outsider service providers – including within the healthcare systems.

In Slovakia, the policy approach to this issue has been limited to the support of intensive community health work focused on health literacy within segregated Roma communities and, more recently, to the first attempts to increase cultural-competence skills of healthcare professionals. According to experience and evidence from elsewhere, while important, these efforts are highly unlikely to tackle the very root cause of difficulties in accessing healthcare.  What has been shown to work against racism most effectively in similar cases has been increasing the number of minority professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists, etc – however, this continues to be completely missing from the related policy agenda.

The authors of the briefing look at the benefits of increasing the numbers of Roma healthcare professionals in Slovakia, recommending that this becomes a goal in the action plan of the health section of the Slovak Republic’s National Strategy for Roma Integration after 2020.