As for all children, cross-sectoral investment in the early years for Roma children is crucial to reduce health inequalities - which in their case are of particular magnitude. With support from the EU, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently launched a website on Roma children featuring various resources, including print and visual materials, to support policy-makers and practitioners.
The website features several sections dealing with issues of particular importance for Roma children in all countries across Europe. Roma children are at risk of experiencing the systematic violation of their rights through poverty and marginalisation, discrimination and the denial of equal access to services and opportunities in society.
This website promotes good practices, partnerships and resources such as the EU-UNICEF Joint project Roma Good Start Initiative.
Of particular interest are sections devoted to:
Early Childhood Development- early years are critical for the development of Roma children. Children’s early development is determined by supportive family and community child care practices, appropriate nutrition and health care, quality learning opportunities, and protection from risk. Child friendly policies and supportive services for young children and their families are essential to provide the necessary enabling environment.
Health & Nutrition- available research indicates that Roma children suffer from malnutrition and ill health at much higher rates than their non-Roma peers - despite, usual official statistics do not collect disaggregated data. Additionally, early marriages constitute an underlying cause of poor maternal and child health. Roma families also suffer from a lack of access to quality health services, and often live far off from health care facilities, lacking essential documents to make use of health and social system.
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