There still exists a hidden discrimination towards Roma university and high school students and hidden stereotypes that there aren’t a lot of Roma who progress in their education. Still, these are four examples that the nationality is of no importance, and that knowledge is what is important!
Marizela Isenova, Melisa Memish, Dehran Asanovski and Dehran Ramovski are a part of the dozen Roma students who study in some of the medicine, dentistry and pharmacy universities in Macedonia. Their scholarships are provided by the Foundation Open Society Macedonia and the Roma Education Fund from Budapest. We tried to highlight the significance of the scholarships and their motivation for these young people to be subsumed in the first dozen Roma doctors in the country.
Dehran Asanovski from Kumanovo is 25 years old and is in his fifth year on the Faculty of General Medicine at the university “Sv. Kiril i Metodi” in Skopje.
– The reason why I decided to study medicine is the premature death of my grandmother who suffered from cancer. I thought that the only way for me to help people who are as ill as my grandmother is to study medicine. Then I wished to become a doctor and to help those people with new methods, or with the present ones, as long as it is me who helps. I decided to go to medical school because I want to help people win over diseases and to attribute to their health and to the prolongation of their lives, says Asanovski.
His fellow citizen, Dehran Ramovski (23) is also a medical student and is in his fifth year on the Faculty for General Medicine at the university “Goce Delcev” in Shtip.
– I finished medical high school, but that wasn’t the only reason for me to go to medical university. I can’t imagine studying something else end work in another field, which is the case with some of my high school friends. Also, knowing the fact that there are few or none Roma medicians (doctors, nurses) in my city was my incentive to be a person who will in the future, as a graduated doctor, who will help the Roma population with the health problems they face, says Ramovski.
Marizela Isenova is 20 years old, from Skopje and is in her second year at the Faculty of pharmacy at the University “Sv. Kiril i Metodi” in Skopje. She is studying to be a laboratory bioengineer.
– I finished as a pharmaceutical technician in medical high school, and I continued my education at the Faculty of pharmacy because I didn’t see myself in another profession. I decided to continue my studies in this direction because of my wish and interest for learning the field of medicine and pharmacy, but also because of the employment opportunities which are offered after graduation, says Isenova.
Melisa Memish from Skopje is 22 years old and is studying on the Faculty of Stomatology at the state university. She is now in her third year at the faculty.
– I chose this direction, doctor of stomatology, because I had finished a medical high school “Dr. Panche Karagozov” as a dentistry technician, so I had no dilemmas when it came to choosing what I wanted to study. The stomatology, as a profession, is what fulfills me and I will never get bored from it, says Memish.
When we asked them how they plan to contribute to the improvement of the health protection of the Roma in Macedonia when they become doctors, this is what they said:
Dehran Asanovski: As an individual and future doctor, my help for my community depends on the conditions and the law. In the direction of health counseling, health checkups in the houses of Roma families, training of the rights of the Roma in the health system, I could contribute to the facilitation of the approach to the health services as a mediator and I hope that maybe I would open a clinic near the Roma community. With this I would enforce the trust of the Roma patients toward their doctor which would be an incentive for timely visits and requests for health help. I would reserve a part of my time for a formal education through educational institutions and non-government initiatives in order to improve the health education in Roma communities. I would accomplish this through lectures which will refer to the changes in acquiring healthy habits and improvement of healthy environment and proper nutrition which are very important and necessary for Roma people, says Asanovski and adds:
– I believe that it is most important to initiate a fund which would serve to help the most vulnerable Roma families. The reasons for the bad health standard are: weak socio-economic situation of the Roma, bad living environment, improper or weak nutrition, bad health habits and belated request for medical help. These are the problems of the Roma considering health and there are only two ways to improve the situation – with money and direct education.
Dehran Ramovski comments: First of all, I would conduct a survey in the Roma districts about the most common pathology that people have, what are the most common illnesses and risk factors, so that we could discover the etiopathogenesis (nutrition, epidemiological survey) and whether an adequate therapy is available for those diseases and how much it is noticed by the people. In collaboration with the Institute for public health I would form a group of GPs and epidemiologists who will examine the drinking water which is mostly contaminated in Roma neighborhoods because of the closeness of rivers, sewage drains etc. They will then work on solving the issue with the contaminated water, which is the main factor for infective and allergic diseases (cholera, enterocolitis, dysentery, contact dermatitis and others). In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and NGOs, I would like to participate in the solving of the problem with medical cards, as well as the main problem – fight against discrimination and unequal approach to the health care for the Roma through the organizing of discussions and seminars for education. Also, periodical examinations for children and adults through screening tests in order to timely detect diseases and prevent them, with an emphasis on pregnant women, who aren’t educated enough about the possible complications during pregnancy, the risk factors, nutrition, blood pressure, blood glucose and others.
Marizela Isenova considers that with more Roma who are medical workers, the current situation of the Roma related to health protection in the country, can change.
Melisa Memish points out – The main problem of the Roma is the ignorance, the deficit of financial means, and the ongoing (more or less) discrimination in the health institutions.
There is an ignorance regarding the health rights (example: a right for a second legal opinion), regarding the consequences from different interventions and services (example: premature tooth extraction), as well as complications that can occur with irregular visits to the dentist. The solution which I think could contribute to the improvement of the situation is the employment of Roma medical staff in institutions with is mainly visited by Roma. This will overcome the language barrier which is often a problem, and sometimes a subject for manipulation when it comes to misunderstandings between the patients and the doctor. Also, to some level, that will contribute to the overcoming of the ignorance, as well as not allowing discrimination on any basis.
Memish also adds:
– Organizing informative campaigns for their health rights and approach if they get violated, will contribute to the increase of the awareness and knowledge for the necessary consecutive reaction. Organizing lectures in order to promote oral hygiene, the consequences of irregular visits to the dentist with the emphasis on timely prevention from an early age etc.
Everyone agree that with the medical scholarships, the stereotypes about the Roma are disappearing, even though it is a slow process. Everyone says that with the scholarships they were given the opportunity to study what they want and that it is easier to reach out to their assistants and professors at the faculties. But, they point out that there still exists a hidden discrimination and stereotyping toward Roma high school and university students with the opinion that there aren’t many Roma who advance in education. Still, these are four examples that the nationality is of no importance, and that the knowledge is what really matters.