Attitudes and Praxis of Traditional Forms of Health Care in a Post-Communist Romanian Romani Community

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Dorian Singh


Prior to the communist period most Romanian Romani communities depended mainly on traditional healing methods as a primary source of health care. After its ascension to power, the Romanian communist government introduced a universal, Semashko-style health care system. The implementation of these requirements dramatically disrupted the traditional health care patterns for Romani communities for over 40 years. Since the collapse of communism these constraints have been lifted and social health insurance (SHI) has been adopted in Romania. Insurance coverage is based on formal participation in the labour market. It is well established that the Roma have fared poorly during the transition to liberal democracy and have suffered particularly in the labour market. Consequently, many Roma are unable to qualify for SHI and remain uninsured and in poverty. Understood within this context, it could be expected that a resurgence in and reclamation of traditional healing methods in the Romani community might be found. This paper draws upon qualitative data from Romani groups in Bucharest and explores the practice, perceptions, and attitudes toward traditional health care in a socially liberalized and increasingly market-driven Romania.  

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