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Five key recommendations for better health

Why focus on Roma health? The European Commission staff working paper on Europe 2020 presented the general view that economic growth needs not to be only sustainable, but also responsive to the needs of equity, social justice, health and well-being of people and society.

The mid-term review of the EU Roma Framework offers an opportunity for European institutions, national governments, and civil society to design a post 2020 EU Roma framework, which by mainstreaming Roma health and early childhood development, ensures meaningful Roma integration.

Poor Roma health is an underlying consequence of segregation. Roma have on average ten years’ shorter life expectancy than the mainstream population due to preventable risks, including hunger and malnutrition, squalid housing, and significantly higher rates of unemployment. Anti-gypsyism in healthand childcare, the specific form of racism towards Roma, results in substandard medical care and barriers to accessing early childhood education and support.

Jobs and growth cannot be achieved with a sick and segregated Roma population. Addressing Roma health is not only a social but an economic imperative: preventing costly Non-Communicable and Communicable diseases in the Roma population can lead to significant savings and economic benefits and would contribute to the sustainability of national healthcare and social welfare systems. Every Euro invested in public health gives an average return of €14 to the economy. Every additional average year of life expectancy is worth a boost to GDP of up to 4%. Given the cross-border elements of Roma inclusion, it is important to recognize that no individual country can cope with the challenges of Roma exclusion alone. There is a need for an EU rule of law mechanism to enforce national governments’  responsibility to respect laws and fulfill their commitments. Only coordinated effort at EU level reaching all the way to local level can deliver tangible progress to tackle all cross -sectoral elements and determinants of good health, and ensure access to the benefits of early childhood development programmes.

Good Roma health is a precondition for a good education and to secure employment. It is vital to stress the need for a post-2020
European Roma framework which delivers for all Roma, based on the latest reliable data and evidence. Detailed and realistic action plans should have appropriate, predefined budgets included in the national, county and local council budgets. While the European
Commission has made achievements in early childhood education, there needs to be improved access to inclusive schooling, higher education and employment, as well as health.

Recommendation to the European Commission

During 2018, develop a post-2020 EU Roma Framework prioritising positive impact on health and early childhood development, including a plan to eliminate health inequalities. >>Read More

Recommendation to National Governments

During 2018, undertake evaluation of the impact of national Health and Early Childhood Development policies in the National Roma integration Strategy. Focus policy design and evaluation on impact on Roma health and wellbeing. >>Read More

Joint Recommendation to National Governments & the European Commission

Establish at national level – with EU coordination and support – improved, comparable data collection mechanisms, including health, wellbeing and ECD indicators and measures for the post-2020 EU Roma Framework. >>Read More

Recommendation to Roma, pro Roma and Public Health Civil Society Organisations

Make your voice heard – Get involved and participate actively in the policy debate to ensure that Roma issues stay on the agenda of the EU institutions and national governments after 2020. >>Read More

Marius Tudor

Roma Health and Early Childhood Development Project Manager

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