Bridging the Gap for Roma Women: The Effects of a Health Mediation Program on Roma Prenatal Care and Child Health
Roma, Europe’s largest minority, face poverty, social exclusion and life-long inequalities, despite the intensified efforts to alleviate their plight. Surprisingly, despite substantial funding aimed at improving Roma outcomes, there is a very little evidence on the effectiveness of these programs. This is the first paper to analyze the Roma Health Mediation Program (RHM), a large-scale public health program implemented first in Romania and developed further in other countries, whose main aim was to improve the health status of pregnant and postpartum Roma women and children, with the help of specially trained Roma health mediators. Using unique registered data from Romania, we exploit the spatial and temporal variation in implementation dates of the program to investigate the effects of the RHM on prenatal care take-up rates and child health. We find that the program had a very large impact on the take-up of prenatal care services, but this improvement was not reflected in the health outcomes at birth of Roma children. However, we do find evidence of decreased stillbirths and infant deaths after the program implementation.
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