Significant progress in implementing activities for Roma health


On 25–26 June 2013, with WHO/Europe, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organized the second meeting of the Roma civil-society group on the right to health.

“Since the first meeting there has been significant progress in carrying out activities related to Roma health. Many United Nations agencies have implemented joint projects on [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] 4 and 5 that – along with other goals – aim to address sexual and reproductive health care. As an outcome of the second meeting, we now have a clear view of the United Nations and EU [European Union] approach to Roma health issues and to Roma participation, which they also consider essential.” said Bernadett Varga, Roma civil-society activist.

Local and international Roma activists gathered in Brussels, Belgium to provide feedback to WHO, OHCHR, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on their activities since the inception meeting in January 2012. Seeking feedback on health issues from Roma civil society is part of the interagency coordination initiative, led by WHO/Europe, to scale up action towards MDGs 4 and 5 in the context of the Decade of Roma Inclusion and in support of national strategies for Roma integration.

During the meeting, participants also had the opportunity to meet and discuss possible areas for cooperation with representatives of the European Commission directorates-general for Education and Culture, Health and Consumers, and Justice. The ROMED programme of Roma health mediators, a joint programme of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, and a draft policy brief on violence by intimate partners against migrant and ethnic-minority women, prepared by a team at the WHO Collaborating Centre on Social Inclusion and Health at the University of Alicante, were also discussed.