On International Roma Day, as part of the Roma Health network, the European Public Health Alliance has joined calls for greater involvement by Roma and pro-Roma health groups in efforts to tackle the health and social inequalities European Roma continue to face.

In its statement, the Roma Health Network calls on national politicians and decision-makers to involve Roma and pro-Roma groups in the development of the new national frameworks to be established as part of the recently agreed EU Strategy on Roma equality, inclusion and participation. Last month, EU national governments expressed their commitment to tackle the systemic health and social inequalities, which mean that Roma face higher mortality rates, premature death and live on average 10 years shorter compared with the general population.

Across the EU, national authorities often miss the opportunity to make the best use of civil society knowledge, expertise and capacity in tackling inequalities in health. The Network therefore calls for a transparent and structured policy dialogue, including mutual learning and knowledge exchange, cross-sectoral cooperation and an inclusive consultation process, to enable the voices of Roma and pro-Roma civil society actors to be better heard.  A more transparent and participatory process will lead to greater equity and inclusiveness, as well as increasing the effectiveness of policy actions aiming to close the gap in health and promote Roma socio-economic inclusion.

National governments should also urgently introduce effective policy and legislative mechanisms, ensure adequate resources to break the vicious cycle of exclusion and marginalisation of Roma recognised in the Council Recommendation and seize this opportunity to end the marginalisation and exclusion of Roma people in Europe.

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