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Strategic approach needed to Travellers

A strategic plan should be developed for addressing the health needs of travellers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, according to the All Ireland Traveller Health Study published last week.

The study, commissioned by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) in Northern Ireland, examined the health status and needs of Travellers living in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Commenting on the research, deputy chief medical officer, Dr Liz Mitchell, said: “The publication of this report is a milestone. The challenge now for policy makers will be to examine the findings and the key points highlighted in the study. Along with our partners, in particular the Public Health Agency, we will identify actions to take forward the work needed to address the issues raised.”

The report describes how all aspects of mother and child services merit the highest priority, with more effort also needed on men’s health issues and on the community’s accommodation needs.

Dr Mitchell added: “The Traveller community has been recognised as a disadvantaged group and the findings of this study provide a framework to work upon to ensure that Travellers have good access to healthcare services to meet their needs.”

The DHSSPS will take forward a number of the recommendations in conjunction with health and social care bodies and other government departments.