For the purpose of educating the young and raising awareness about healthcare rights and access to information of the most endangered and most vulnerable groups of people, within the framework of the project dubbed “Promotion of Availability of Healthcare Protection for Roma Women”, the National Roma Center promoted a film called “Let us Talk — My Health Is My Right” to a group of young people and representatives of the healthcare and educational institutions in Kumanovo. This project is funded by the Roma Healthcare Program in Budapest and the Open Society Foundation in Macedonia.
The key protagonists in the video are young people and it conveys the message that those who do not have access to information, who are ashamed of talking to their close ones, who are poor and who believe that they will be stigmatized because of their sexual and reproductive health need to be encouraged to exercise their rights and to gain access to information to prevent any unwanted consequences.
“This creative video is aimed at educating the most marginalized groups, primarily the young, to receive information about sexual and reproductive health and their rights. There are institutions that work on this matter, but they are not promoted sufficiently among the young and the other groups. The video refers to patients’ rights, too. We have a special and reproductive health counseling office, but the young do not use it enough. So, it was our idea to encourage them to talk about this delicate issue, which is a taboo, with people they trust most, primarily their gynecologists and other healthcare workers”, project coordinator Sebihana Skenderovska said.
She explained that the video would be distributed to the Kumanovo schools and presented to students because they should all be familiar with their rights and talk to the relevant institutions about delicate issues that affect the young.
Through the film, the NRC sends out a message to the young to talk openly about sexual and reproductive health, the risks it entails and their healthcare rights.
This activity is a sequel to the program that the NRC has enacted over the past 10 years in terms of promoting the Roma women’s health rights. The NRC has been recently working on strengthening the women’s position regarding delicate issues, such as sexual and reproductive health and access to preventive healthcare.
Lawyer Magdalena Jakimovska from the NRC says that patients are insufficiently informed about their healthcare rights and the free medical examinations in the healthcare institutions.
“This year we will resume this project, which focuses on Roma women in particular. Our target group is women aged 16-45 and their healthcare rights, the rights related to their gynecologist, free gynecological examinations, free pregnancy tests and free advice on sexual and reproductive health”, Jakimovska said.
At the promotion of the film yesterday, Kumanovo Hospital director Snezhana Zaharieva made a speech, advising the young to regularly see a doctor and talk to him/her about the delicate issues for the purpose of preventing unwanted consequences.
“Anyone in need may address the Kumanovo General Infirmary physicians and ask for their advice on topics about which the young do not discuss openly with their parents or friends. The final aim is to protect them from sexually transmitted diseases and prevent unwanted pregnancy”, Zaharieva said.
Ljiljana Ivanovska, Kumanovo Medical Center visiting nurse, says that this service also supports the project because it refers to young mothers who are educated by visiting nurses about how to take care of their own and their newborns’ health.
Ever since its establishment, the NRC has been the supporter and the promoter of the Roma community’s rights, as well as the rights of all the marginalized groups, the persons at social risk, the poor and the sick. Within its healthcare program over the past 10 years, the NRC has been working on the ground with the Roma community, but it still discerns a strong need to raise awareness on the basic healthcare rights among Roma girls and women. Therefore, in 2017 it resumed the activities under its project dubbed “Promotion of Availability of Healthcare Protection for Roma Women” as a sequel to the project that was successfully realized in the previous year of 2016.