Traveller and Roma Policy in Ireland
Healthy Ireland, the Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013 – 2025, is the national framework for action to improve the health and wellbeing of the country. The Healthy Ireland Framework is informed by international evidence and thinking on ‘health in all policies’ and the WHO strategic approaches to tackling risk factors for non-communicable diseases, as well as the social determinants of health and health inequalities.
The Framework, which is underpinned by a number of ethical and guiding principles for implementation, places a strong emphasis on an evidence-based approach, reflecting national and international best practice, and takes a life course approach aimed at achieving four main goals:
· Increase the proportion of people who are healthy at all stages of life
· Reduce health inequalities
· Protect the public from threats to health and wellbeing
· Create an environment where every individual and sector of society can play their part in achieving a healthy Ireland
Healthy Ireland supports a whole-of-government approach to address the social determinants and predictors of health and wellbeing, many of which fall outside the health sector, e.g. housing, transportation, education, workplaces and environment along with an individual’s socio-economic status. The Framework outlines actions under six thematic areas, in which all sectors of society, including national and local government, the community and voluntary sector, the business community and individuals can participate to achieve these goals.
The Healthy Ireland Council, is a key initiative as part of Healthy Ireland to leverage engagement with whole-of-society and to connect and mobilise communities, families and individuals into a national movement with a common aim to support everyone to enjoy the best possible health and wellbeing was established. Council members come from a wide range of backgrounds and interests.
An example of Healthy Ireland in action is the Asthma Education project - a culturally appropriate pilot project on Asthma Education for Travellers which was developed in partnership by Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, the Asthma Society of Ireland and the HSE. This programme contains education about asthma control and management and produced a number of resources including posters and a DVD featuring Community Health Workers demonstrating asthma management methods and inhalers. Such a programme is significant given the estimates that among Traveller children, asthma was the most common ailment reported in the All Ireland Traveller Health Survey.
The Healthy Ireland Framework is informed by international evidence and thinking on ‘health in all policies’ and the WHO strategic approaches to tackling risk factors for non-communicable diseases, as well as the social determinants of health and health inequalities. Healthy Ireland takes a ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ approach to generating more effective, coherent and joined-up responses to these complex issues.
The Department of Health, through the Health and Wellbeing Programme, is working with the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government on embedding health and wellbeing into new structures and arrangements in local government, as well as into environmental planning and strategy development. ‘Health and Wellbeing’ is now positioned as a theme in the local economic and development planning process underway. The Programme has also established direct links with the City and County Managers Association.
Health Service Executive
A strong cohesive structure exists within the Health Service Executive (HSE) to coordinate priority actions in Traveller and Roma health. The HSE National Traveller Health Advisory Forum comprises representation from HSE staff, Traveller Health Units and Traveller representatives. Actions agreed by this committee may be included in the HSE National Service and Operational Plans for implementation across the country, with due consideration for flexibility around local identified priority needs.
Traveller Health Units continue to forge and maintain strong links with other statutory and voluntary agencies in their areas, including significant engagement with local authorities and associated structures.
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