Abstract: The pervasive failure of policies aimed at overcoming health inequities suffered by European Roma reflects the oppressive and impoverished living conditions of many ethnic minorities in the Western world. The multiple social inequities that Roma experience and the cumulative effect on their health prove that the failure of health policies that impact Roma must be attributed to their ameliorative nature. These policies legitimize the mechanisms of oppression that sustain inequities, fueling fatalistic attitudes toward minorities, while these minorities internalize the stigma and attempt to survive on the margins of society. This paper presents the RoAd4Health project, a community initiative in which academic researchers partnered with Roma communities to overcome health inequities. We present the multiple methods utilized for building meaningful advocacy, such as photovoice and asset mapping led by Roma agents of change. These methods provided the capacity to develop a local narrative of disparities, build alliances to gain capacity to respond to injustices, and take actions to promote social change. The results of effectively involving all significant stakeholders (i.e., community agents of change, residents, health and social care providers, Roma community grassroots organizations, and institutional actors) are discussed along with lessons learned.
Keywords: Ethnic minorities, Community advocacy, Roma, Health inequities, Transformative policies.