07 Jul 2022

Minister Feighan visits Traveller Health Project in Leitrim

Minister Feighan visits Traveller Health Project in Leitrim

Minister Feighan meets members of Traveller Primary Healthcare Project

The Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD, visited Carrick-on-Shannon this week to see first-hand the work of the Traveller Health Project delivered by Leitrim Development Project.

The Traveller Health Project receives funding from the HSE to employ a Project Co-coordinator; Development Worker; Men’s Health Worker; and six Community Health Workers. The staff team which includes members of the Travelling community provide health information and signposting and supporting services to members of the Travelling community, providing them with assistance where required to access to health services. The HSE employ four dedicated staff with responsibility for Traveller Health in the region the positions are:  Public Health Nurses for Traveller Health; Mental Health Service Coordinator for Travellers and Regional Co-ordinator for Traveller Health.

The Traveller Primary Health Care programme is aimed at improving the health outcomes of members of the Travelling Community. Delivered through a Community Development model by Primary Healthcare workers from the Traveller community. Key to success is the acknowledgement that Travellers have a right to appropriate access to healthcare services, which take into account their particular needs, culture and way of life. The involvement of the Travellers in the delivery of health services is crucial in bridging the gap between the Traveller community and access to health services.

Minister Feighan was greeted by Donal Fox, CEO of Leitrim Development Company and Patricia Garland HSE Manager for Social Inclusion in addition to being warmly welcomed by a number of local stakeholders and representatives of the Travelling community.

Minister Feighan stated “The Department of Health acknowledges the severe health needs of Travellers, who die younger, have more illnesses, and are at greater risk of substance misuse and mental ill-health. These health inequalities are rooted in the social determinants of health, which encompass poverty and social exclusion, poor living conditions, low education attainment, unemployment and discrimination. It is also acknowledged that Travellers can face difficulties in accessing healthcare services.”

Minister Feighan thanked Leitrim Development Company and the staff of the Traveller Health Project for “their work in providing support to members of the Travelling community access service much needed health service and in particular the work they undertook in promoting the public health messages and practical support they offered on the ground to members of the Travelling Community in respect of Covid-19.” He further acknowledged Covid-19 has brought into focus the health inequalities faced by Traveller communities and the Minister reiterated the Department of Health commitment to the publication of the Traveller Health Action Plan in 2022.

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