Side event of the EPHA 6th Annual Conference, 2-3 September 2015 "Towards a European Union for Health - From Health in All Policies to EU Governance for Health and Well-Being?"

Background information

The Roma, Europe’s largest ethnic minority group, composing of approximately twelve million people, is one of the most disadvantaged communities living in Europe, and in most cases they live in segregated areas or settlements without proper access to healthcare services and health coverage in general. The Roma population is at the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum, with social determinants of health mostly responsible for health inequities. [1] In most cases Roma lack sufficient access to public services, including access to healthcare.

The European Commission has issued a report on the health status of the Roma population in Europe. The report concludes that Roma in Europe suffer a greater exposure to wider risks of ill health, have poorer access to preventive and healthcare services and suffer poorer health outcomes than the general population. The report also highlights that as a result of cutbacks linked to the economic crisis, the health status of Roma and their access to health services is deteriorating further in several areas. This latest report reinforces the worries of the public health community about the Roma health situation, and that urgent policy actions are needed to tackle the Roma public health emergency.

In the first session, the discussion focused on the situation in Slovakia, as a case study to demonstrate the challenges Roma living in secluded communities face in having access to basic healthcare services. It also offered some solutions as to how local authorities, stakeholders and the Roma themselves, with the active involvement of Roma health mediators, can work together to promote meaningful Roma inclusion.

Recognising that each stakeholder (Member States, European Commission, (pro) Roma civil society) has its own responsibility to promote meaningful Roma integration, this session will provide an inclusive platform for panellists and participants to have an in-depth discussion about the crucial aspects of Roma integration and how aspects of public health could be included inthe non-health specific elements of national strategies for Roma integration (housing, employment, education, anti-discrimination), following the health in all policies (HiAP) approach aiming at better governance for health. The debate also aimed to discover what role Roma Health Mediators can play in facilitating that process.

Figures show the disadvantaged health situation of Roma in Europe. For example, a continuous improvement is needed in the area of reproductive healthto help prompt a decrease in infant mortality by monitoring the access to qualitative and guaranteed antenatal, perinatal and postnatal health services for Roma women as well as for socially vulnerable women. As there are structural problems in many countries which prevent access to healthcare, session 2 will focus on effective use of European funds for solving these problems by presenting some examples of good practice from Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Read the EVENT REPORT to find out more.






Session 1

Ľubomíra Slušná Franz, President, ACEC - THE WORK WE DO, THE SUPPORT WE NEED The role and challenges of NGOs in the process of improving the health of Roma Communities.

Radovan Horváth Nálepkovo Health Mediator - Healthy Communities- The Life of a Health Mediator

Richard Koky, Chairman of the steering committee – The Platform for Supporting the Health of Disadvantaged Groups - Introduction to the Healthy Communities Project

Marek Virág, Mayor of the village - Markušovce - Experience, problems and challenges related to excluded Roma communities in municipalities

Branislav Ondruš, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic - National project, healthy communities

Session 2

Deyan Kolev, Amalipe, Bulgaria - Successful Models for Improving the Access of roma to Healthcare in Bulgaria - Is the mission possible?

Sebihana Skenderovska, National Roma Centrum, Macedonia - Advancing the access to healthcare for Romani women in Macedonia

Organised by:

The side event is organised by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) in collaboration with the “Together for Better Health” Programme of Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK).

ABOUT Together for Better Health (T4BH)

Established in 2011, Together for Better Health is a consortium of four non-government organisations, including GSK, working to improve access to healthcare for socially excluded Roma communities in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. The three-year programmes aim to address some of the gaps in these basic services.

- Related EPHA articles


[1] Marmot M, Allen J, Bell R, Bloomer E, Goldblatt P (2012). WHO European review of social determinants of health and the health divide. Lancet, Vol. 380, No. 9846, pp. 1011 – 1029. Doi: org/10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61228-8.

Last modified on October 22 2015.