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Roma Health Rights in Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia: A Baseline for Legal Advocacy

The Roma, Europe’s largest and most neglected minority, face discrimination and are pushed to the sidelines of society—harming their health. In some communities, Roma life expectancy is 10 years below average. Their infant mortality rate is unacceptably high, and preventive health care is almost inaccessible.

Roma face systemic discrimination and exclusion in citizenship, education, employment, housing, and access to justice. Many cannot access health care at all. Others suffer abuses in health care, including the outright denial of medical services, the disclosure of medical information, breaches of privacy, and violations of the right to informed consent.

At the same time, a range of international, regional, and domestic legal frameworks protect health rights, and there is increasing recognition of systemic violations experienced by Roma. Roma NGOs have undertaken legal advocacy to press for accountability in health care and access to health services.

This report analyzes the current state of legal advocacy for Roma health rights in Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia. It seeks to establish a point of reference, and to develop an evaluation framework for the Open Society Foundations’ support for legal empowerment, documentation and advocacy, media, and strategic litigation.

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