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Ambitious plan for Traveller health launched in Cork

 A large group of adults sitting down in chairs and children sitting on the floor in front of them. All are holding large green booklets.

“This is a very important day for Travellers across the region. Working together we can make a difference, and this report is just the first step following years of hard work and partnership. And all of that is critical to the successful implementation of this document,” according to Breda O’Donoghue, co-chair of the Cork/Kerry Traveller Health Unit, speaking at the launch of an ambitious plan to reduce the health inequalities and challenges faced by the Travelling community.

HSE CEO Bernard Gloster was joined by representatives from Traveller organisations from across the region to launch the ‘Cork Kerry Traveller Health Implementation Plan 2023-2028’ at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork City in recent weeks.

6 Traveller organisations worked together with the Cork/Kerry Traveller Health Unit to develop the new plan, which outlines key health priorities for Travellers across the region.

During the consultation process, Traveller organisations shared key insights, including the need for increased funding for the sector. These issues are reflected in the strategic priorities of the plan.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Gloster said it was “great to join together with the proactive Traveller organisations in Cork and Kerry to help launch the Cork/Kerry Traveller Health Implementation Plan ‘Missling on the Tobar’ 2023-2028."

"This new plan sets out a clear vision to ensure that Cork and Kerry Travellers’ health and wellbeing is prioritised, whilst also focusing on establishing equitable outcomes in health for Travellers and their families. Working in partnership with Travellers and Traveller Organisations, we are best positioned to provide safe, culturally appropriate, and sustainable healthcare for Travellers and their families.”

Tess O’Donovan, HSE Chief Officer, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, said she was “extremely proud of our dedicated Cork/Kerry Traveller Health Unit team, as they launch this important plan. The plan not only promotes safe and equitable access to healthcare, but it also sets out clear measurable targets to ensure that Traveller health is given prominence in our healthcare agenda.”

David Lane, General Manager, Social Inclusion and Primary Care and co-chair of the Cork/Kerry Traveller Health Unit added that the event and launch marked the “culmination of many months of hard work involving a large number of key stakeholders."

"A particular word of thanks to all of the Traveller Organisations involved in the development of this plan, along with colleagues and friends in the health services. We really look forward to working together to reduce the inequalities and challenges faced by so many Travellers across Cork and Kerry.”

Regional Traveller health priorities identified during the consultation, and addressed in the plan, include mental health and suicide; the impact of trauma on Traveller community health; addiction and access to culturally appropriate services across the region; the impact of lifelong discrimination and racism experienced by Travellers; the impact of poor accommodation and barriers to education as key social determinants. Priorities also include Traveller chronic ill health; the need for culturally appropriate health promotion for Traveller men; cultural supports such as horse projects; the need for culturally appropriate health promotion for LGBTI+, older Travellers and disabled Travellers and access to services for Travellers in rural areas.