The first phase (2002 – 2004) of the forum was one of intense community building as forum members availed of training in community activism, leadership, facilitation skills and policy analysis organized by Cairde. As a result the forum was able to represent ethnic communities across several national policy arenas, particularly by being actively engaged in the Eastern Region Health Authority Strategy for Ethnic Minorities.
In a second phase (2005-2006), the EMHF enhanced its knowledge of ethnic communities’ health issues by adopting an evidence-based approach grounded in empirical research. Forum members participated as community researchers in the health needs assessment of minority ethnic groups in Dublin’s North Inner City. In parallel, the forum was consolidated through outreaching meetings with ethnic community members in other regions of Ireland, the culmination of which was the May 2006 national conference on cooperation among minority ethnic communities.
In a third period (2007-2009), the EMHF expanded on its previous activities, further building its capacity in a number of key areas of intervention.
First, it redirected its training activities to areas more particularly related to health and research. For example, forum members participated in health promotion training in DCU with a view to developing a Health Promotion Strategy for minority ethnic groups.
Second, assessment activities were also continued, as forum members participated as community researchers in the Cairde-DCU research on “New Communities and Mental Health in Ireland”.
Third, the EMHF also started to develop culturally appropriate information resources for ethnic communities. With the support of Combat Poverty Agency three publications on access to GPs, hospitals and maternity services were published.
Finally, the forum developed partnerships with health service planners and providers. Among these there were consultations with the HSE National Intercultural Health Strategy, regular exchanges with the local HSE Social Inclusion and Health Action Forums, as well as partnerships with several Dublin hospitals on issues relevant to minority ethnic groups.