BULGARIA & ROMANIA: Roma Health Advocacy Capacity Project
Large populations of Roma live in both Romania and Bulgaria, where the group faces extreme marginalization and discrimination. The substandard living conditions of the Roma population result in serious health issues including tuberculosis, malnutrition, and maternal and infant mortality. In Romania, the Roma have a lower average life expectancy, and infant mortality is up to four times higher than rest of the population. The substandard conditions fueling these health problems are exacerbated by the exclusion of Roma from health care services.
Combating TB in vulnerable communities
HealthRight International first initiated programs in Romania for vulnerable groups such as the Roma, in response to disproportianately high rates of tuberculosis. HealthRight developed tools, implemented conferences and trainings, and provided technical expertise to control TB and advocate for groups excluded from health care services.
Giving voice to the voiceless
Building on the success of our TB programs in Roma communities in Romania, HealthRight developed the Roma Health Advocacy and Capacity Building project in 2006 to expand and increase Roma health advocacy capacity in both Romania and Bulgaria. HealthRight sought to strengthen the monitoring and advocacy capacity of Roma NGOs to address disparities in access to health education and services for Roma.
Empowering through united advocacy
In order to contribute to greater civil society participation, HealthRight created a Roma NGO, a professional association of its Peer Health Educators (PHE) in Romania. The Center for Community Development Neamt (CCDN), aims to represent Roma communities in the local health system, advocate for improved resources and mount health promotion campaigns. CCDN demonstrates how similar groups can liaise with health systems to deepen and expand the reach of policy-based activities.