The European Commission recently hosted the 10th The European Platform for Roma Inclusion – a major conference dedicated to Roma integration, bringing together national governments, the EU, international organisations and Roma civil society representatives, aiming to stimulate co-operation and exchanges of experience among all stakeholders on successful Roma inclusion and integration policies and practices, as part of the European Framework of National Roma Integration Strategies.
On this occasion, 25 European and National Roma, Pro-Roma and public health organisations have voiced serious concerns about the Roma public health emergency in Europe. The groups have jointly called on the EU and national governments to remove systemic barriers preventing access to healthcare, arguing that urgent policy actions are needed to tackle the Roma public health crisis. The statement, supported by EPHA, presents seven concrete recommendations and calls for action to tackle discrimination, antigypsyism and other barriers to healthcare.
The statement was prompted by the Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey released by the Fundamental Rights Agency, which reveals that 80% of Roma interviewed are at risk of poverty compared with an EU average of 17%. The study also highlights huge inequalities within Europe regarding health insurance coverage. The rate of unmet medical care needs is still very high in some countries and long term activity limitations because of ill-health is a problem.
The survey followed alarming data on Roma health from the Commission in 2014 as well as the criticism of the lack of proper implementation of the strategy in the area of health from Roma advocates on the ground.
In 2011, Member States committed to annually present either a strategy for Roma inclusion, or policy measures within their social inclusion policies to improve the situation of Roma people, to the European Commission. The Commission then analyses these strategies and publishes conclusions on the 4 different areas of the framework: housing, education, health and employment. As we approach the mid-term review of the EU Roma Framework in 2017, the Commission must take heed of the evidence and address the European Roma public health emergency as a matter of urgency.
Policy Coordinator for Healthy Trade and Health Equity