TOGETHER 4 BETTER HEALTH – a pan European partnership to improve the health of Roma people living in isolated communities in Europe.

THE PARTNERS IN THE TG4BH ARENational Network of Health Mediators, Partners Hungary, OvidiuRo Association, and Association for Culture, Education and Communication, working to improve access to healthcare for socially excluded Roma communities in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Over five million Roma people living in Europe lack basic services such as clean drinking water, sanitation, and healthcare.

 With the support from the GSK community partnership program, a (now) 6 year program was initiated in 2012 with the aim of improving the health of those living in socially excluded and isolated Roma communities in Europe by bringing together four distinct NGOs from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

These NGO partners all had previous experience in working with Roma communities across health and education, and bringing all four together as a coalition under the banner ‘Together 4 Better Health’ has helped to leverage their joint expertise in order to drive impact.

The partners in the Together for Better Health (TG4BH) have developed a high-impact approach to improve health infrastructure and access to healthcare within Roma communities. All four organisations share a common approach in developing solutions with and of the communities they serve. Each organisation also shares complementary skills and approaches to maximise impact across countries. The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), has been closely involved and is supporting the project aligned to it’s mission and specific emphasis on Roma integration and Health.  

Key to this program are ‘health or cultural mediators’, individuals from Roma communities who receive training in basic preventative and curative health care, and act as a link between the communities and the primary health system. This, together with the development of pragmatic and supportive policies has and should continue to deliver sustainable impact. 

Specific program objectives are to:

•   Support and embed the role of Health andf Cultural Mediators to improve the health for Roma , especially children, through education and medical interventions within Roma communities

•   Ensure that Health and cultural Mediators, mostly people from the Roma community, are acknowledged and embedded in the national legal frameworks

•   Speed up sustainable access to available national and European funds.

In the first three years  great progress has been made by this program in what remains an extremely challenging social issue. The approach taken has shown impact in reaching nearly 300,000 Roma people with better health and sanitation, and demonstrated the power of leveraging four experienced NGOs to deliver impact and advocacy. Importantly, solutions have been developed from within the community, with health and cultural mediators, healthcare professionals and education of children playing a pivotal role in linking the community with the public health system.