Cancer resources for Travellers

Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre, in partnership with The Marie Keating Foundation, have created Traveller specific cancer information resources to improve the early detection of cancer and ensure better outcomes in cancer care for Traveller men and women.

According to the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study (2010), Travellers have poorer health outcomes than non-Travellers with life expectancy much lower than average. 

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Travellers are dying from the same causes as non-Travellers, including heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer but in far greater numbers across all ages. While the All Ireland Traveller Health Study reported a higher uptake in cancer screening services for Travellers due to the work of Traveller Primary Health Care Projects, Pavee Point was concerned that the pause on screenings nationally due to COVID-19 would have a disproportionate impact on Travellers.

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ACCESS RESOURCES

Information Sessions

To help address these gaps and in particular inequalities in accessing vital health information on cancer, Pavee Point and the Marie Keating Foundation worked in partnership to provide cancer awareness information sessions for Traveller Primary Health Care Workers.   The sessions focused on Ovarian Cancer and Prostate cancer.

As well as raising awareness on the importance of early detection, the sessions also saw a change in how comfortable participants  were when it came to discussing cancer with other Travellers.  Mary-Brigid Collins, Assistant Coordinator of Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre’s Primary Health Care Project explains: “Before we started the sessions, only a third of our Traveller Primary Health Care Workers that took part in these sessions said they felt they would be comfortable talking to a Traveller man about the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.

“After the sessions, well over half said that they felt comfortable discussing this. This shows that sessions like these, along with the important work of our own Traveller Primary Health Care Projects, can contribute to supporting real change when it comes to reducing the numbers of Traveller men and women losing their lives to unnecessarily cancer.”

“We value partnerships with organisations like Marie Keating Foundation and there is also a role for our health services to support positive action like this as it is needed to combat Traveller health inequalities.

“We are looking forward to the publication and implementation of the overdue National Traveller Health Action Plan which will embed this type of work into mainstream health services.”

Culturally Appropriate Leaflets and Videos

Working with the Marie Keating Foundation, culturally appropriate leaflets and videos featuring Travellers were produced and are being promoted online and through Traveller Primary Healthcare Projects.

Director of Nursing Services at the Marie Keating Foundation, Helen Forristal explains: “We have been privileged over the last 12 months to work with Pavee Point to help close the gap in cancer care.

“A lack of tailored and culturally sensitive cancer information is a huge deterrent when it comes to members of different communities seeking advice from medical professionals.”

Mary Brigid Collins added : “Travellers around the country will be able to access these resources from their local Traveller organisation or Traveller Primary Health Project. These these new resources promote awareness in the community and also support Travellers in accessing cancer screening programmes post COVID.”