The REACH project

It is estimated that around 180,000 to 350,000 Roma live in Greece, making up 1 to 2.5% of the total population. As evidenced by national and international surveys, Roma face multifaceted discrimination, particularly in the areas of housing, education, employment and health. The Roma population generally suffers from greater exposure to broader determinants of health problems, live less healthy lifestyles, have poorer access to and lower uptake of primary care and preventive health services, suffer poorer health outcomes, in terms of morbidity from both infectious and chronic diseases. Roma tend to use health services less than the general population due to linguistic and cultural differences as well as lack of knowledge of their entitlements concerning welfare issues and available services.

The project «REACH: Roma women’s Empowerment and fighting discrimination in ACcess to Health» aims to combat discrimination against Roma, through the development of an inclusive Primary Health Care (PHC) environment as well as to support Roma equal access to health services. It will offer practical benefits and impact to the target group, through the empowerment of Roma women, their families and youth. It will also contribute to the development of i) skills of the HCP in PHC and staff of the Community Centers of selected Municipalities with Roma Branches, ii) mutual learning and understanding on the mutual benefits of Roma integration and iii) working methods that can be adopted by other PHC units or Municipalities. Also, the REACH project will further assist to the exchange of best practices on such topics.

Audiences and Target Groups

The project will reach a wide number of stakeholders such as civil society members, Roma communities, academics, policy makers, the general public as well as governmental and public services executives.

Project’s main target group will be:

  • Health Care Professionals of PHC. Project’s intervention towards the health care professionals aims at developing cultural competences and cultivating inclusive behaviors for ROMA.
  • Staff of Community Centers of selected municipalities with Roma Branches. The intervention aims to develop their capacities for a more effective cooperation with both the PHC structures and the Roma community.
  • Roma Women. The project focuses on empowering Roma women, their families, and youth, both by increasing Roma population health literacy and access to health services, and by piloting a health mediation model. Key role in the project possess the Roma mediators, who will be trained to act as “propagating keys” for the promotion of health in their community and to mediate with the PHC.


The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the fight against antigypsyism and various forms of discrimination against Roma with a focus on discrimination in access to health.

  • It includes empowering Roma women and promoting their participation in developing policies directly affecting them by building the capacities of Roma women health mediators at the local level.
  • It will contribute to break stereotypes and promote societal support to Roma inclusion and desegregation by raising the awareness and building the capacities of healthcare professionals (HCP) and staff of Community Centers (CC) – Roma Branches of selected Greek municipalities.
  • Finally, it will provide useful information and insights through desk and field research and lead to the drafting of concrete and tailored recommendations to improve access to health, since health status and needs of Roma women in Greece remains an under-researched field.

Methodology & Core activities

The  aim  of  the  REACH  project  is  to  develop,  pilot  implement  and  disseminate  an integrated  approach  that  will  incorporate innovative characteristics and will be coordinated by a multidisciplinary team consisting of Community Center and Primary Health Care professionals and Roma Health Mediators.

Projects activities include:

  1. Mapping Roma health care provision in Greece. Identify and assess existing models and approaches on health care provision for Roma in Greece, as well as best practices in the related field at a European level. These activities will:
    • Develop a handbook on healthcare provision for the Roma, with a specific focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, their families and youth.
    • Develop an integrated approach which is multi-disciplinary, culturally appropriate, human-rights-based and gender-sensitive on health care provision for Roma and which is transferable to other areas/municipalities in Greece.
  2. Building capacities of HCP in PHC, Municipalities’ staff and staff of Community Centers with Roma Branches providing information and experiential activities related to Roma communities, human rights and needs. These activities will:
    • Develop a training toolkit based on the REACH approach.
    • Build cultural competences of HCP in PHC, aiming at cultivating inclusive behaviors for ROMA.
    • Build capacities and interagency cooperation among PHC structures, Community Centers of municipalities with Roma Branches and Roma communities.
    • Strengthen the fight against Roma discrimination in access to health.
    • Assess the effectiveness and impact of the developed approach on trained participants.
  3. Capacity building and empowerment of Roma health mediators and Roma communities as well as assessing the developed approach in 2 selected municipalities in Greece. The above aim to:
    • Prepare, monitor and assess the implementation of the REACH approach in 2 selected areas (Halandri for the Attica region and Larisa for the Thessalian region).
    • Further build the capacities of municipal staff to prepare the implementation of the pilot intervention in the areas.
    • Identify key members or active players from the Roma communities to propagate and diffuse the REACH approach into the communities and motivate them to actively participate.
    • Empower the Roma women and increase health literacy amongst the communities with a focus on women, their families and youth.
    • Develop practical informative material.
  4. Ensuring the sustainability of projects’ results and their impact aiming at:
    • Channeling project’s results to wide audiences.
    • Promoting project’s objective and results at national and European level.
    • Promoting networking with all involved partners and increase the inter-institutional/multi-stakeholder cooperation through joint workshops and awareness-raising events.
    • Encouraging and providing online tools for mentoring of HCP and CC staff and dialogue with Roma mediators and communities.
    • Developing policy recommendations.

Expected results

The project is expected to improve Roma access to health care services. Specifically, project’s expected results include:

  • More effective implementation of the EU framework for national Roma integration strategies as well as Greek legislation and policies aimed at combating various forms of discrimination and enhancing the integration of the Roma population.
  • Increase Roma people health literacy (focus on women, their families and youth).
  • Empowerment of selected Roma women to act as “propagating keys” in their community and to mediate with PHC for health issues.
  • Raise awareness and develop capacities of healthcare professionals involved in the provision of health services in Roma communities as well as of Community Centers’ staff with or without Roma Branches.
  • Increase awareness of all society’s members and key stakeholders on the mutual benefits of Roma integration.