According to the All Ireland Traveller Health Study (AITHS) 2010, Traveller men’s life expectancy at birth is 15 years less than the life expectancy of men in the national population.
It is important to note that the life expectancy of Traveller men was 10 years less than it was among men in the national population, in 1987 (HRB).
Also according to the AITHS the suicide rate among Traveller men was 7 times higher than it was among the men in the national population.
We have seen from our work in the Primary Health Care for Travellers Project it is extremely difficult to get the Traveller men at home.
If they are there, they are reluctant to engage in discussion.
One of the main barriers is that men in general do not talk ‘face to face’ but they talk ‘shoulder shoulder’. They feel better to express themselves when they are doing something together i.e. games, activities, group work etc. In 2014, the Men’s Health Worker in Pavee Point implemented a pilot project, engaging a group of Traveller men to build a grotto in Cappagh Field, successfully working with the men to open dialogues about difficult topics of conversation.
Our initiatives in Traveller men’s health will have some tangible objectives and also objectives which will lead to outcomes at a later stage, if full and active participation takes place.
To create an interest among Traveller men to come to a meeting place to find out the health needs of Traveller men
To create a functional group to work towards fulfilling the identified needs
To explore the possibility of creating a Men’s Shed in the area
To create awareness among group members about Traveller men’s health status in Ireland and issues affecting health
To encourage group members to discuss the prevalent health issues in their area and prioritise them
To encourage group members to think beyond health and look into the social factors influencing their health
To arrange experts to come and discuss specific health related issues i.e. asthma, CVD, cancer, diabetes etc.
To organise specialist check ups for Traveller men to identify potential health risks
To identify, jointly with the group, the measures/ activities that could help prevent/ manage some of these.
To help Traveller men come up with activities that can be carried out with and for the group itself in preventing / managing some of these.