Poor health stunts Roma children’s development, EPHA says

A new report by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) focuses on how socioeconomic preconditions affect the health of Roma in Europe. Infant mortality is reported to be between two to three times higher than majority population.

“The worse the socioeconomic situation of a social group, the worse its health status is”, EPHA says. According to their new report, Roma are the minority which suffers the most from health problems and higher mortality. The life expectancy of Roma people is five to twenty years shorter compared to the average population.

The report is a review of both quantitative and qualitative studies, including published articles, reports, surveys, statistics, strategy and discussion papers sources.

Children are among the most impacted.

The infant mortality is between two to three times higher than the majority population. Low birth weight and malnutrition affect Roma children disproportionately, impacting their social and educational attainment.

The evidence is clear, the healthy development of a child is heavily conditioned by the environment in which they live.

We know that the “early years experiences affect the brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health” (Harvard). The early “experiences and environmental influences “get under the skin” and interact with genetic predispositions” (Harvard).

As reported by EPHA, poverty and school segregation affect Roma children more. Preschool attendance of Roma children is in some cases (Czech Republic and Slovakia) four times lower than national average. Also, half of the Roma between six and 24 years of age in Europe do not attend school.

EPHA calls on EU Member States to do more for the health of Roma, “because good health is a precondition for wellbeing and social inclusion”.

Download the study here.