Written answers

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Department of Health

Traveller Community

Photo of Ruth CoppingerRuth Coppinger (Dublin West, Solidarity)
Link to this: Individually | In context

146. To ask the Minister for Health when the last national Traveller health advisory committee met; when the next meeting is to take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46211/18]

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin Bay North, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context

165. To ask the Minister for Health the reason the National Traveller Advisory Committee has not been convened since 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46319/18]

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 and 165 together.

Health and well-being are not evenly distributed across society. There are socially excluded groups who experience extreme health inequalities. Such groups include Travellers, homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers and people with addiction issues. Inequalities in health are reflected in the mortality and morbidity rates of the population. Rates of chronic diseases are another indicator of health inequalities. A social gradient is also apparent in mental health. Reducing health inequalities can delivery real benefits for society and for future generations. It requires interventions to address the social determinants of health and to provide integrated and comprehensive healthcare services.

The health status of Travellers' is documented in the landmark All Ireland Traveller Health Study, published in 2010 and funded by the Department of Health.

The Department of Health, in conjunction with the HSE, supports a range of programmes to improve the health status of Travellers.

These include:

- primary healthcare projects, counselling services, family support programmes and men's health projects; dedicated public health nurses and related staff;

- mental health promotion and suicide prevention services provided in a culturally sensitive manner, to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

The Department and the HSE participate in various official structures which monitor the provision of heathcare services for Travellers. These include the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy Steering Committee and the Traveller Health Advisory Forum. The Department's Healthy Ireland Network also has Traveller representatives.

The Department convened a workshop on Traveller health needs in May, 2018. This had representation from various policy units in the Department of Health and from Community Healthcare Organisations within the HSE. There was also representation of Traveller organisations, including Pavee Point, Irish Traveller Movement, National Traveller Mental Health Service, Traveller Counselling Service and National Traveller Women's Forum. This workshop reviewed the health needs of Travellers and assessed the policy responses and services being provided, the Department is committed to ongoing engagement with Traveller organisations to address their health needs.

As Minister with responsibility for health promotion and social inclusion, I am very aware of the health inequalities experienced by Travellers. Significant measures have been undertaken across the health service to address these inequalities, as outlined above, and there is ongoing and extensive engagement with Traveller organisations in this regard. I am satisfied that this is the most appropriate and effective approach to improving Traveller health.

Photo of Ruth CoppingerRuth Coppinger (Dublin West, Solidarity)
Link to this: Individually | In context

147. To ask the Minister for Health if funding will be increased for Traveller health; the action being taken to improve Traveller health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46212/18]

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin Bay North, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context

166. To ask the Minister for Health the reason there has been no increase in the Traveller health budget since 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46320/18]

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 166 together.

Health and well-being are not evenly distributed across society. There are socially excluded groups who experience extreme health inequalities. Such groups include Travellers homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers and people with addiction issues. Inequalities in health are reflected in the mortality and morbidity rates of the population. Rates of chronic diseases are another indicator of health inequalities. A social gradient is also apparent in mental health. Reducing health inequalities can delivery real benefits for society and for future generations. It requires interventions to address the social determinants of health and to provide integrated and comprehensive healthcare services.

The health needs of Travellers' are documented in the landmark All Ireland Traveller Health Study, published in 2010 and funded by the Department of Health.

The Department of Health, through the HSE, provides funding in the region of €10m per annum for programmes to improve the health situation for Traveller communities.

These include:

- primary healthcare projects, counselling services, family support programmes and men's health projects; dedicated public health nurses and related staff;

- mental health promotion and suicide prevention services in a culturally sensitive manner, to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

A further €500,000 funding is provided through the Dormant Accounts Fund for initiatives aimed at improving Traveller mental health.

The Department recently convened a workshop on Traveller health needs. This involved representation from various policy units in the Department of Health, Community Healthcare Organisations within the HSE and Traveller organisations.

As Minister with responsibility for health promotion and social inclusion, I am very aware of the health inequalities faced by Travellers. Both I and the Department are committed to enhancing funding to address the acute health needs of Travellers, within the budgetary resources available.

Comments

No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.