Traveller Health

The goal in Healthy Ireland to reduce health inequalities requires not only interventions to target particular health risks but also a focus on addressing these wider social determinants of health.

The Framework provides for new arrangements to ensure effective co-operation between the health sector and other areas of Government and public services that are concerned with these broad determinants of health, including those of importance and relevance to all of those persons who experience health inequalities, including Travellers.

The new structures established under Healthy Ireland to enable and support its implementation will provide a focus on addressing the health needs of all groups experiencing health inequalities, including Travellers, and provides an opportunity to take a new approach to tackling issues such as health inequalities and the social determinants of health more effectively.

We are working with other Government Departments and the HSE in this regard.

The All-Ireland Traveller Health Study (AITHS) was a large-scale study focusing on key aspects of Traveller health, social status and service utilisation. The most striking findings from the AITHS, published in September 2010, relate to the substantially higher levels of mortality and morbidity among Travellers compared with the general population.  Life expectancy for male Travellers was found to be 15 years lower than for the general population and 11 years lower for females. The most recently published Census of Population (CSO, 2011) supports these findings and identified considerable disparity in the percentages of Irish travellers aged 65 (2.5%) compared with the general population (11%). While some of this difference is likely to be a consequence of a higher birth rate in the Travelling community, it is unlikely to account for all of the difference.  In addition, infant mortality rates were calculated at more than three times the national average and given the impact of infant mortality on life expectancy, these differences are very stark.

Click here to view the All Ireland Traveller Health Study.