:: Background

The “Fostering health provision for migrants, the Roma, and other vulnerable groups” IOM (EQUI-HEALTH) project aims to strengthen national, regional, and EU level approaches to Roma Health. To this end, it focuses on developing a coherent network, promoting dialogue among key stakeholders on Roma health related issues, and outlining strategies and interventions to support capacity building and cooperation within and between participating states.

Тhe Regional Intervention on “Community Health/Intercultural Mediators and the Roma” was launched within this general framework and in line with the priorities identified at the Regional Consultative Meeting & Expert Working Group “Health in the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies: Implementation, Challenges and the Way Forward” (Sofia, May 2013) and the Expert Working Group “Health Mediation and the Roma” (Huelva, September 2013, as part of the International Conference on Intercultural Mediation in Health Care) to consist of study visits to EU MS implementing Roma health mediation programmes with the objective to learn from individual programme experiences.

The First Study Visit took place in Bulgaria in June 2014 with the participation of Roma community health/intercultural mediators and program coordinators from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain. A Second Study Visit in Belgium and France was organized in November 2014 by IOM, the FPS Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment (Belgium) and the Association pour l' Accueil des Voyageurs (France) and brought together mediators and program coordinators from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, FYROM, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain. The Third Study Visit was organized by IOM Bucharest and the National Institute for Public Health (Romania) to continue the discussions between Roma health mediators, program coordinators, and Health Ministries’ representatives from Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain in July 2015. In June 2016, the last so far, Fourth Study Visit was organized in Spain jointly by IOM, the Comisionada del Plan Integral del Polígono Sur and CESPYD-University of Seville.

The 4th Study  Visit gathered health mediators and programme coordinators from Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine, as well as local health and social services from Seville. The programme consisted of a Spanish roundtable, during which the hosts presented good practices from their work with Roma communities, institutions and NGOs; two sessions on discussing regional developments and future plans of building EU health mediator’s network, a session on sharing of experiences between mediators and a field visit to three Roma communities in Seville. Mediators and programme coordinators had the possibility to visit primary medical centers, meet inhabitants and speak with health professionals, social workers and NGOs representatives in the communities of Poligono Sur, El Vacie and Torre Blanca.

As a continuation of EC funded projects implemented by IOM in the field of migration health, also including the PHBLM project, the Re-Health action (Support Member States under particular migratory pressure in their response to health related challenges) was launched in February 2016 by the Migration Health Division of the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Regional Office in Brussels in order to contribute to improving the capacity of EU Member States (MS) under particular migratory pressure to address the health-related issues of arriving migrants while responding to cross-border health events and strengthening epidemiological surveillance, monitoring, and early warning, including preparedness, response planning, and coordination of national policies.

Under the framework of the Re-health project and as a support to the pilot implementation of the Personal Health Record (PHR), and accompanying Handbook for Health Professionals (HPs), developed by IOM with the support from the European Commission and the contribution from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, trainings on Migration Health for Cultural Mediators have been organized in the project implementation countries (Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia). The trainings have the objective to impart cultural mediators working with migrants with the necessary knowledge needed concerning migrant-related health care and cultural mediation and to explore the role and importance of a cultural mediator in facilitating the communication and understanding between diverse individuals and communities.  

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