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Access to health care for Roma children in Central and Eastern Europe: findings from a qualitative study in Bulgaria

Author(s): Rechel Boika | Blackburn Clare | Spencer Nick | Rechel Bernd

Journal: International Journal for Equity in Health
ISSN 1475-9276

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 24;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Abstract Background Despite the attention the situation of the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe has received in the context of European Union enlargement, research on their access to health services is very limited, in particular with regard to child health services. Methods 50 qualitative in-depth interviews with users, providers and policy-makers concerned with child health services in Bulgaria, conducted in two villages, one town of 70,000 inhabitants, and the capital Sofia. Results Our findings provide important empirical evidence on the range of barriers Roma children face when accessing health services. Among the most important barriers are poverty, administrative and geographical obstacles, low levels of parental education, and lack of ways to accommodate the cultural, linguistic and religious specifics of this population group. Conclusion Our research illustrates the complexity of the problems the Roma face. Access to health care cannot be discussed in isolation from other problems this population group experiences, such as poverty, restricted access to education, and social exclusion.
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