While working in the medical high school in Gostivar as a professor, I encouraged some Roma students to study medicine. I have managed to motivate four students from Gostivar to study Medical faculty in Skopje, remembers Pini.
Arif Pini is one of the rare doctors from Roma nationality in the country. He had graduated on a Medical faculty in Skopje. At the moment he is continuing his education, specializing an internal medicine. After finishing the Medical faculty, he worked as a professor in a medical high school in Gostivar. After that, he starts to work in an emergency center in the Gostivar’s hospital Ferdi Murad. He works there as a doctor in the last four years. He says that he is not the only Roma doctor in Macedonia. There are more, he claims, but despite the small number of this staff, the general public doesn’t see them, because they are unemployed.
ONE: Are Roma patients coming to you because you are Roma and because they feel they won’t be discriminated?
Arif PINI: I am proud that I am a Roma and I am proud because I have patients Roma, but also Macedonians, Albanians, Turks…But, if you are asking me about the patients from Roma nationality, yes, they are coming to me not only while I’m at work, but often they are asking for advices outside my office and you can notice a level of trust and feeling of security towards me. Many times they are coming to me, even though they have their own medical doctor. Sometimes, I notice relief in the eyes of the Roma patients when they are coming in the emergency center in the Gostivar’s hospital for various medical reasons. They feel relieved encountering me and they approach me almost immediately consulting about their medical issues. The reasons for this trust are different, but my opinion is the fact that I myself am Roma, I am living among them and I’m familiar with their problems in their everyday life.
ONE: What is the biggest problem that Roma people are facing with? How do you think that it should be solved?
Arif PINI: For a long period of time I’m active in a civil sector too. I was involved in many researches in health area among the Roma population and I think that I am very well familiar with the problems and issues in this area. The problems that Roma people as patients are facing with are huge. But, I will mention that tremendously big number of Roma do not have health insurance or they lost it from different reasons. And that is the first barrier that disables the people to use the health insurance that the state is providing. Roma people live in very bad socio – economic conditions and because of that, they are facing with numerous chronic illnesses. And the general picture of the health situation of most of the Roma is differing from the rest of the citizens in the country. The hidden discrimination has a big role as well. It can’t be proven easily, but it’s there in the health system. The low level of education as well as the poverty additionally influence on an overall health situation among the Roma people. One of the solutions based on my experience that I think that can bring results is increasing the number of graduated Roma doctors which will be employed in a public and private health medical sector.
ONE: Previously you have worked as a professor in the medical high school in Gostivar. What was the interest among the Roma students for the medical profession? Are the scholarships stimulus for studying medicine?
Arif PINI: Yes and as I know, I was the only Roma professor in the medical high school in the territory of Macedonia. I showed myself as a successful professor because I introduced some different approach of teaching, with visual content and with power point presentations. And I remember, the students were delighted to follow my classes. Because of that I got an offer to be employed permanently in the school, but I had to decline, because I had a higher goal – to work as a doctor in the hospital in Gostivar. And in that period, I recall that my students were showing their friends who is their Roma professor with a great proud. While working in the medical high school in Gostivar as a professor, I encouraged some Roma students to study medicine. I have managed to motivate four students from Gostivar to study Medical faculty in Skopje.