The DNA of Hungarian Roma people has long been misused, scientists reveal. This is causing health problems in Roma people around the world, especially in Greece, where Roma, most of whom are Roma-Armenian, are a large population.
What was once considered to be genetic mutation in Roma people has now been falsely attributed to lack of access to prenatal care. However, Roma people experience variations in sexual reproduction, too, leading to a range of possible pregnancy complications, causing it to be misused.
Research conducted by the non-profit Research Fellowship, a member of the International Society for Ecology, points to the root cause for incorrect abortion information.
“What the research shows is that discrimination is a primary cause of false knowledge,” said Monica Stotzki, a member of the anthropology and molecular genetics department at the University of Olgoslawski, Poland.
The research was released in conjunction with the organization’s “Save the Roma Prenatal Care” project and offers proof that social injustice has been an issue with genetic testing.
“We have a science that will tell us what kind of knowledge for individuals we can provide, and this is the key for correcting the erroneous results,” Stotzki said.
Between 2003 and 2017, groups in Greece and across the continent helped to introduce the new two-year program, encouraging pregnant Roma women to have in-clinic abortions. Researchers from the University of Olgoslawski also shed light on the health of Roma families from the ages of 45 to 60, and their better-than-average intelligence.
“If we are targeting older Roma women, like those aged around 35 to 40, who do not receive prenatal care and at least do not have prenatal care available in their districts, we can predict with this knowledge that it will be fatal if they did not choose an abortion,” Stotzki said.
Stotzki did not give statistics on deaths and miscarriages related to gynecological health; however, due to research indicating good health from adolescence to age 30 for Roma women, she believes physicians should be informing patients about that.
“I think now that they (providers) will really learn the true situation, it will really be important for them to communicate the proper information and to link it to the better future of the Roma population,” Stotzki said.
According to estimates, there are an estimated 700,000 Roma in the world. Most are Roma-Armenian in origin. The Roma community maintains a unique lifestyle in Europe, lacking certain acculturation in order to keep their language and customs.
Ethics and the laws in the United States are often times different from ones of other countries, making it much harder for anti-Roma sentiments to catch on.
“The situation in the U.S. is actually quite similar to that of the European countries,” Stotzki said. “Gays, lesbians, transgender individuals, or the visibility of those issues, has already slowly been changing the perception. Also, there is more understanding that in Africa, not only Roma, but many people are discriminated in the same way that this population is. Maybe American society is closer to that, in terms of cultural values.”
While present situations in the U.S. and Europe, the good hope lies in ensuring more accurate information can help treat and cure patients, enabling them to be healthier in their communities.
With the help of additional studies from organizations like the International Society for Ecology, Roma people can now learn if certain medical procedures help prevent diseases or contribute to babies born ill.
“So, this would lead to a better understanding of the community, of the gynecological health of the population, and of course, in general, it will help both the Roma population as well as all of society to have better healthcare in general,” Stotzki said.