The HSE is still unable to confirm a date for the publication of the long-delayed National Traveller Health Action Plan (NTHAP).
In 2017, the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 (NTRIS) recommended that a “detailed action plan” be implemented to address Traveller-specific health needs.
“The finalisation and publication of the National Traveller Health Action Plan is a priority area for action in the HSE service plan for 2022,” a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent. The Programme for Government – Our Shared Future (2020) also recommended that the NTHAP be implemented.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The Department has engaged with the HSE in the drafting of the Traveller health action plan to ensure that the plan is aligned with the Department’s policy priorities, as set out in the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy and Action Plan 2021-2023, the Healthy Ireland Strategic Action Plan 2021-2025 and the Statement of Strategy 2021-2023.”
A draft of the plan from the HSE National Social Inclusion Office was circulated in March 2019. However, a report in November 2019 from the joint Oireachtas committee on key issues affecting the Traveller community said the draft “did not include dedicated resources, performance indicators, verification measures and an institutional mechanism to drive implementation”. A redraft was subsequently commissioned. The plan will take account of recommendations from the Oireachtas committee report.
An NTHAP “has the potential to make a significant impact on Traveller health in Ireland”, according to the HSE website. “This ambition should not gloss over the very significant challenges of developing and implementing such a plan that is evident from the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study (2010).”