:: European context

Regardless of the name used to characterize the profession of the health mediator in the different countries (intercultural mediator, health social assistant, communicator, community health worker, etc.), the professional affiliation (hospital employee, municipal employee, an NGO representative, other), the majority of the people practicing this profession share common profile (speaking the language of the community and/or with same background) and have followed a training programme enabling them to serve as a bridge between the person in need and the health system, and as explained in the Belgium NRIS “guarantee accessibility, quality and continuity of care”.

The scope of health mediators’ activities varies in the different countries implementing such programs, framed by the national legislation and needs. In some countries the program is limited to interpretation services while in others it can expand to facilitation of access to social and welfare services as well. One of the main vulnerable groups served by health mediators often mentioned in the NRIS are women and their children and the improved access to maternal and reproductive health services and vaccination are often enlisted as priority interventions.

Presently there is an ever-growing variety of practices and models implemented in Europe and increased need of synergies, exchange of good practices and collaboration. 

In regards Roma health mediation, it has been outlined as one of the strategic approaches in improving access to health services for the Roma population in 12 out of the 27 National Roma Integration Strategies, developed by  EU MS (except Malta).    

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