Indexed on: 24 Jul '10Published on: 24 Jul '10Published in: European journal of public health
Roma people from Central and Eastern Europe suffer some of the worst health conditions in the industrialized world. This article aims at identifying the determinants of health status among Roma in comparison with non-Roma in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.Non-linear models were estimated for three different health indicators: self-reported health compared with the previous year, probability of reporting chronic conditions and feeling threatened by illness because of sanitary and hygienic circumstances. Ethnic origin differentiated by Roma, national population and other ethnic minorities is self-reported. The data used are from a unique data set provided by the United Nations Development Programme household survey on Roma and populations living in their close proximity for 2004. Sample sizes are 2536 for Bulgaria, 2640 for Hungary and 3292 for Romania.After controlling for demographic variables the Roma were significantly more likely to report worse health in any indicator than the non-Roma everywhere. However, after including socio-economic variables, Roma had a significantly higher probability of reporting chronic conditions only in Romania. For the probability of feeling threatened by illness because of unhygienic circumstances, being Roma was a main determinant in Hungary and Romania, but not in Bulgaria. The results for self-reported health were inconclusive.While these results in part support the development of health policies targeting Roma, the finding that poorly educated and less wealthy people, as well as other ethnic minorities also experience health inequalities suggests that broader multisectoral policies are needed in the countries studied.