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First National Traveller Health Action Plan to improve health outcomes

 First National Traveller Health Action Plan to improve health outcomes


Improving the health experiences and health outcomes for Travellers is the aim of the recently launched first National Traveller Health Action Plan. The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, the Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, Roderic O'Gorman, and the HSE recently announced the launch of the first National Traveller Health Action Plan (NTHAP) 2022-2027.

The Action Plan acknowledges the severe health inequalities that Travellers experience, arising from the social determinants of health, and the obstacles they can face in accessing healthcare services. It will provide a solid foundation upon which to build and maintain a legacy of success in addressing the additional health needs of the Traveller population.

Speaking at the launch Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he “strongly endorsed” the Plan as it “aligns with my department’s strategic priority to improve access to healthcare for socially excluded groups. It is a comprehensive public health response to the health needs of Travellers, that that sets out tailored and affirmative measures to prevent disease, promote health and prolong life, and are delivered in partnership with Travellers.

“In particular, I welcome the focus on the mental health needs of Travellers, which is in line with the prioritisation of Travellers in my department’s mental health policies.  To address the needs of Traveller women who experience homelessness additional funding is being provided from the Women’s Health Action Plan.”

The plan includes health and social care interventions that will have the most impact on Traveller health including mental healthcare and chronic disease diagnosis, early interventions and management.

Mary Brigid Collins, Primary Health Care for Travellers representative on the National Traveller Health Action Plan Steering Group, said she was “delighted at the publication of this much-needed National Traveller Health Action Plan. I believe it has the potential to bring about real positive change for Travellers around the country.  It has Traveller inclusion at the centre of the plan and recognises the impact of racism, discrimination, poor living conditions, poor outcomes in education and unemployment have on health outcomes.

“It recognises also the importance of active Traveller participation and the role of Traveller Health Units and Traveller Primary Health Care Projects. Travellers look forward to continuing to work with the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health and will continue to highlight the need for recurring and realistic budgets if we're serious about implementing the Plan."

Martina Queally, Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare East and Chair of the National Traveller Health Steering Group, added that “the National Traveller Health Action Plan is an important step forward in our work to achieve better health outcomes for Travellers. I wish to thank the Steering Group and all those who participated in the consultation process including Travellers, Traveller organisations, my colleagues in the HSE and the Department of Health for contributing to the development of this plan.

“By working together and implementing targeted actions that address Travellers’ specific health needs, we can make a positive impact on Traveller health in Ireland and help reduce health inequalities. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to support this important work.”

The HSE will establish a steering group to monitor and report on the implementation of the plan at national and regional levels. Traveller Health Units will also develop a 5-year implementation plan and publish an annual report.