Co. Clare Traveller Health Study Identifies Serious Gaps in Traveller Health

A Co. Clare Traveller Health Needs Assessment finds a high uptake on vaccinations, screening services and access to GP services. However, some issues in Co. Clare are more magnified than reported in the All Ireland Traveller Health Study (AITHS) which was carried out ten years ago:

  • Poor mental health

  • Discrimination

  • Experiences of health services

  • Social living conditions & homelessness

  • Substance misuse

“The fact that almost all of the Travellers in Clare reported experiencing poor mental health in the past 30 days; and almost 1 in 3 were diagnosed with depression, yet less than 5% accessed mental health services is very concerning,” stated Project Lead, Kathleen Lawrence.

Chief Officer Gloster spoke about the importance of Traveller Primary Health Care Projects, stating “We have to reflect and learn from previous initiatives in promoting improved Traveller health, what worked and what did not. Traveller Primary Health Care Projects work and support better outcomes for Travellers on the ground.”

He also spoke about the importance of targeting and mainstreaming approaches to address Traveller health inequalities and to ensure that health services cannot be “complacent about the need to ensure out services are accessible and that they can work for Travellers.”

Martin Collins and Bernard Gloster

Co-Director of Pavee Point Martin Collins stated, “This report shows that almost 10 years after the AITHS, Traveller health inequalities remain and that you can’t separate Travellers poor health from living conditions, lack of education, employment opportunities and racism and discrimination.

“The publication and implementation of the National Traveller Health Action Plan is urgently needed. This includes the establishment of a Planning Advisory Body for Traveller Health (PATH) with a dedicated budget to ensure its delivery.”

The Clare Traveller Health Needs Assessment was undertaken by Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre on behalf of the Traveller Health Unit (THU) in the Mid West. The assessment was carried out by local Traveller peer-researchers and achieved a very high response rate (76%). It identifies the health priority needs of Travellers in Clare and was launched by HSE Chief Officer, Mid West Community Healthcare Organisations,  Bernard Gloster.

Putting Findings into Action

The Needs Assessment calls for services to work in partnership with Travellers and the Mid West THU to develop strategic responses and approaches to the findings. The report makes three concrete recommendations:

  1. Establish a Traveller Primary Health Care Project in Clare with full county coverage;

  2. Establish an independent Traveller organisation in the County, working from a community development and equality ethos and based on a partnership approach between Travellers and non-Travellers with expertise; and

  3. Establish strategic responses and approaches to the social determinants of Traveller health outlines in this report, in partnership with key statutory service providers, Traveller representatives and community/voluntary organisations. These responses should be aligned with key national strategies and policies and should utilise the lived experiences of Travellers to clearly inform the focus of the work to jointly co-produce the required responses

Mid West THU Coordinator, Josephine Fogarty stated “the overall picture of inequality the report paints is stark and unacceptable.  However, we must not be paralysed by the scale of the task ahead. There are deficits and a great level of need identified, but the challenge now is to work with the three recommended actions – in a real partnership of service providers working collaboratively and on an equal basis with Travellers to develop local response to the local issues identified in this report.”

You can access the report here: