Written answers

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Department of Health

Traveller Community

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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499. To ask the Minister for Health the reason the national Traveller health advisory committee has not been convened since 2012; when the national Traveller health action plan will be published; if he will ensure the simultaneous establishment of the promised planning advisory body for Traveller health to ensure the speediest implementation of the plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50603/18]

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael)
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Health and wellbeing 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. Reducing health inequalities can deliver 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 All Ireland Traveller Health Study, published in 2010. This study was funded by the Department of Health.

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.

The Department and the HSE participate in various official structures which monitor the provision of heathcare services for Travellers. These include the Traveller Health Advisory Forum and the steering committee for the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy. In addition, the Department convened a workshop on Traveller health needs in May, 2018.

The HSE is developing a detailed action plan on Traveller health as one of the commitments in the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy. I understand a draft of the action plan is being finalised by the HSE. Any proposal in the action plan for a planning advisory body for Traveller health, which might include representation from the Department of Health, will be considered in due course.

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