Reference: Ana Gutiérrez-Martínez, Susana Gema Alés Álvarez, Tainara Paulon Protasio & Daniela E. Miranda. COVID-19: how one-size-fits-all policies negatively impact the Roma population. European Public Health Alliance (EPHA).
Abstract: Public policies concerning health and economic recovery have ignored the specific experiences of Roma families and communities during the pandemic. Scientific evidence warns that the health of ethnic minorities is exposed to greater risks than the rest of the population because of socio-political determinants. Specifically, Roma communities are especially vulnerable because of antigypsyism, which leads to policies that deprive them of resources and opportunities for a healthy life.
Several Spanish organizations and institutions developed urgent recommendations to reduce the impact of health and economic crisis on the Roma population. Despite these efforts, the Roma population has reported worsening of their physical and mental health, increased discrimination, severe difficulties for the continuation of their children’s studies and a significant income reduction, and harder access to basic food. Under this scenario, international organizations such as EUPHA called for action to involve the entire population and carry out advocacy actions in order to grant the same rights and responsibilities to all citizens and ensure that the measures established for majority populations also reached disadvantaged groups.
With this objective, advocacy processes led by 5 Roma women, specifically self-identifying as Gitanas (the Spanish Roma community), and researchers were promoted in various contexts in Seville (Spain). The aim was to create knowledge about health inequalities that emerged after COVID-19 and implement advocacy actions to defend Roma rights in Seville during the pandemic. A community-based participatory-action-research (CBPAR) was conducted. As a starting point, a partnership was formed between members of the research team of the Center of Community Research and Action (CESPYD) and five Roma women from various neighbourhoods at risk of social exclusion who had previously participated in other CBPAR projects.
The process was articulated in several phases following the model proposed by Miranda et al.: (1) develop local knowledge about the problem; (2) expand networks and build alliances, and; (3) implement multilevel advocacy actions.
As a result, local knowledge was created on how inequities suffered in different social determinants of health were exacerbated by COVID-19 through interviews with the Roma population living in these neighbourhoods and analysing the narratives to identify common needs. Alliances were established with thirty-three grassroots organizations to learn about the concrete actions programmed to address the situation of Roma population. The organizations were representative of various grassroots efforts in Sevilla (i. e. migrant organizations, feminist organizations and other Roma organizations). Press releases were carried out in ten different media to disseminate the poor conditions Seville’s Roma population was enduring among other advocacy actions. We provide a series of recommendations to ensure the implementation of the new EU Roma Strategic Framework 2020-2030.
Keywords: COVID-19, Health inequalities, Roma health.