Emese Ibolya

2005-06 International Policy Fellow
Public Health and the Roma working group


There has been a continuous decrease in the social and health conditions of the Hungarian Roma minority in recent years. This is primary the result of the low socio-economic status of Roma people, and cannot be improved without both poverty reduction and social integration. The current government health sector legislation is aimed at improving the living and health standards of the Roma, through supporting equal access to quality healthcare services and preventive programs. Despite these goals however, there has been little measurable improvement in the health condition of the Roma people.

This article assesses the reasons behind this policy failure and argues that while government programs targeting social mobility of the Roma should not be disregarded, they must take into consideration the complex cultural characteristics of this group. Extensive reform of health legislation and the medical education system is recommended in order to improve the health status of the Roma minority through proper access to quality healthcare services.