The main goal of the project is a campaign for advocacy for equal treatment and access to natal and antenatal health services in the country.
What do we want? Providing a free of charge package of antenatal examines for socio-economic disadvantaged Roma-women. That is the main goal of the project “Through increased voice to better health services” by the National Roma Centrum. All our claims are based on a legal and economic analysis.
How we will achieve that? The basic pillar of the campaign is advocacy for the equal treatment and access to the natal and antenatal health services in the country. Non-discrimination and obeying the Law for patient protection. For every patient to be precise. We plan to advocate for the rights, but at the same time for the obligations and responsibilities of the Roma-women that are marginalized and socially excluded. Women in need. Especially in the antenatal protection. They additionally need to be encouraged to go on gynecological examines and it will become mandatory if the state institutions accept the financial burden for that. Our goal is to take care of their health. Mostly the health of their descendents. Along with that, we will work on awareness raising campaign. The health workers, health policy creators as well as the general public is our target. The project will be implemented in Kumanovo, Kriva Palanka, Shtip, Kochani and in Bitola, among Roma-women at the age between 12 and 40.
Partnerships. We build partnerships with individuals, medical doctors, gynecologists, nurses, civil organizations that health issues are their primary objective. We will try to build a bridge of cooperation and along with that a partnership with the Ministry for health, Ministry for labor and social politics, the Health insurance fund of Macedonia, the Parliament members, mayors, but also with representatives of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Commission. But, at the end of the day, our biggest partners will be the Roma-women.
Supporting facts. Almost 50 per cent out of 102 Roma-women from Kumanovo, Kochani, Shtip, Kriva Palanka and from Bitola are giving birth without knowing their own RH-factor. In the most of the cases they get up to three gynecological exams, although according to the antenatal protocols by the Ministry for health, they should get at least 10 guaranteed exams if the woman is pregnant for the first time and there are seven guaranteed exams for women who gave birth several times. As participants in 10 focus-groups we had an opportunity to hear their experiences and to conclude that as patients, they don’t have an equal treatment by the medical institutions. The research showed that around half of these Roma-women are originating from the low socio-economic groups of the society and they are not receiving their own right for reproductive health. There are several factors why the situation is like that. Mostly, because of the prejudices and the low level of awareness by the majority of the population. Having not equal treatment, administrative and financial barriers, unemployment, social exclusion, as well as the lack of self-confidence are additionally putting oil in the fire.
According to the health worker, 50 per cent of the Roma-women are not attending on their gynecological examines on a regular basis. Additional problem in this case are causing the so called “mother’s cards”. These cards are giving an access to a proper health protection. But most of the Roma women are not using them properly.
We are not from yesterday. The National Roma Centrum (NRC) has a special health program, where all the project activities are focused on the health services and on the health rights of Roma people in Macedonia, for the better quality of the services, for non-discrimination and the equal access of the health services. As well as better informing on their rights as patients. The project “Through increased voice to better health services” is part of this program and it’s a continuation of a previous hard work in this area.