DSC00397At coordinative meeting, the partners were evaluating the progress with the activities

Life in poverty, in isolated and segregated communities as well as social determinants of poverty maintain a large social distance between Roma and non-Roma in all areas of daily life. Additionally, all this is backed up with stereotypes and prejudices in society in general, and in particular in health area.

The following statements are used by health workers when Roma people are not provided with health services and identified by organizations working on health issues of Roma:

– Roma people are without health culture.

– Roma people are not routinely immunized.

– Roma women give birth to many children, and it is common among these women to deliver a baby at home in cases when they have no health insurance.

– When seeing a doctor, Roma people have to have a bath and look after their personal hygiene.

– Roma people take medicines on their own initiative.

– When children are sick, Roma people visit faith-healers.

– I have no more ideas how to explain them what papers / documents they need.

Thus, many general practitioners refuse to treat Roma patients saying they reached the limit of number of patients.

Until present, no one has tried to understand and describe the background of these issues as well as to think about the reasons i.e. why that is so. If we think about all these negative attitudes towards Roma people and their way of living, we ask ourselves if cultural differences are influencing the opinion.

The perceived negative attitudes, denials and opinions create multiple discrimination in the health system that is experienced through low level of qualitative health services, bureaucratic denial to access health insurance and health care which lead to Roma exclusion.

From these reasons, ROMA S.O.S. in partnership with three associations LIL from Skopje, SONCE from Tetovo and ROMANO AVAZI from Skopje undertook initiative to dial with changing negative opinions, attitudes and behaviors of health workers towards Roma. By undertaking creative and innovative research as well as field activities, associations aim to effectively ensure Roma access to primary health care, while respecting the diversity and rights through active participation in the health system and maintaining the health system open to all.

Municipalities of Prilep, Tetovo, Gjorge Petrov – Karpos, Topaana – Center are covered with the activities, and in the period until June a research was conducted among gynecologists, general practitioners and dentists, as well as between Roma communities, thus the following has been implemented:

  • 43 pre-tests with the doctors,
  • 22 depth interviews with doctors,
  • 8 focus groups in the Roma communities which was attended by 96 Roma,
  • 10 stories from personal experience of Roma patients about their treatment in medical institutions were documented.

Summing up the results in a Report with key findings is the next step which will create possibilities for realization of parallel and complementary outreach activities among health workers and Roma communities to discus and overcome the identified key factors.

The project is supported by FOSM through Media and Health Program from New York (OSF), at is implemented in the period January till December 2015

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