Minister launches Traveller Health Strategy
€8.2 million approved for implementation
The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, today (26 February 2002) launched the document Traveller Health – a National Strategy 2002 to 2005. In preparing this strategy the Department of Health and Children has relied heavily on the recommendations of the National Traveller Health Advisory Committee.
The available data on the health status of the Irish Traveller community shows that they experience a level of health, which falls far short of that enjoyed by the general population.
“The Traveller Health Strategy sets out a clear and practical response to these inequities, with firm proposals for action in line with the policy of social inclusion enunciated in the National Health Strategy, Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You,” said the Minister.
The strategy recognises that Travellers have a right to appropriate access to Healthcare Services, which take into account their particular needs, culture and way of life.
The involvement of Travellers themselves in the delivery of health services is considered crucial in bridging the gap between the Traveller Community and access to health services. This has been achieved to some extent through the involvement of Travellers and Traveller organisations on the Department´s Traveller Health Advisory Committee and in the Health Boards´ Traveller Health Units and Primary Health Care for Travellers Projects and will be further developed through the implementation of the actions proposed in the Strategy itself.
There are 122 Actions Proposed in the Strategy, which can be broadly summarised as follows:
- Establishment of active partnerships between Travellers, their representative organisations and health service personnel in the provision of health services.
- Provision of awareness training for health personnel in relation to Traveller culture, including Traveller perspectives on health and illness.
- Strengthening of Traveller Health Units comprising Health Board staff and Traveller representatives, with responsibility for planning and implementing the Strategy in each Health Board.
- Development of initiatives to increase Travellers´ awareness of general medical services and to make services more accessible, having regard to the Travellers´ lifestyle.
- Provision of designated Public Health Nurses to work specifically with Traveller communities.
- A Traveller Needs Assessment and Health Status Study, the results of which will inform appropriate actions on Travellers´ health.
- Replication of the successful “Primary Health Care for Travellers Project”, which established a model for Traveller participation in the development of health services.
- Establishment of an appropriate liaison arrangement between the Department of Health and Children and the Department of the Environment and Local Government and including representatives from Traveller organisations, to address issues of common concern relating to Travellers.
- The Minister stressed his Department´s commitment to fully implementing this Strategy within the period up to the end of 2005. The Government has approved additional funding of €8.2 m over the period 2002 to 2005 to implement the Strategy.
- The Minister thanked the members of the Traveller Health Advisory Committee for their contribution to the development of the Strategy and everybody who had participated in the consultation process.
- “I am particularly grateful to the Travellers who, through their representative bodies, have contributed so much to this new strategy. I welcome its publication and urge all involved to make every effort to ensure its successful implementation,” concluded the Minister.