In average, there are 23 256 children are born in Macedonia annually, while the average number of stillbirths is 227. There are 1,745 children who are born with low birth weight, which is the most important factor for the need of additional medical care and treatment of children. The reasons for the complications after childbirth, as well as the relatively high number of stillbirths are mostly due to lack of medical care, or lack of medical supervision of pregnancy in women.
Therefore, the prenatal examinations are crucial for the avoidance of these occurrences.
The research made by the National Roma Centrum (NRC) from Kumanovo in 2011, as well as the fieldwork in 2012 and 2013, showed that out of 102 Roma women from Kumanovo, Kocani, Stip, Kriva Palanka and Bitola, aged between 15 and 35, around 50% do not enjoy their rights for reproductive health. The unequal treatment, the administrative and financial obstacles, the unemployment, social exclusion and lack of confidence are the reasons for this situation. All these women are socio-economically disadvantaged and do not have the money to go to the doctor or to pay for the gynecological services.
Around 8587 women who are beneficiaries of social help, are in their reproductive period, which is 1.64% of the total number of women of reproductive age. According to the latest available official data, and the 2002 Census, Macedonia has 522,355 women in the reproductive period.
If we take in consideration that in the past decade, Macedonia has, in average, 23 256 children born annually, out of which 227 are stillbirths, it turns out that 1,64% out of 23 483 pregnant women in the state or 381 pregnant women are beneficiaries of social help.
The social financial help for 2012 for one family and household with five or more members (100%) is 5 515 DEN a month. On the other side, the basic gynecological package with echo has the referent price of 800 DEN, and the expanded gynecological package with colposcopy is 1 240 DEN.
The prenatal healthcare in Macedonia was regulated in 2010, when they delivered the instruction on how to perform healthcare activities related to the prenatal examinations in pregnancy. But in the Strategy for Safe Motherhood 2010-2015 it was confirmed that the national clinical guidelines for prenatal care are outdated and that they should be reviewed. But, nothing has been done since.
Therefore, the National Roma Centrum, through the project “Through increased voice to better health services” has an aim to point out to the relevant institutions and the creators of politics in the field of health, that the health services are not equally accessible to everyone. Guided by the basic human principle that the public health services should be accessible to all the citizens of Macedonia, in the following period NRC will insist for a program for free health services for the socially vulnerable women in Macedonia in order to have healthy mothers and healthy generations.
The European Union has already raised the question for the reforming of the health care systems in the states members, in order to provide equal opportunities for equal access to quality healthcare, and to ensure more efficient use of public resources. The EU strives for universal access to healthcare services which can lead to poverty reduction and to the fight against social isolation. Maybe it is time for us to start with the revision of the access to the health services in Macedonia, in order to avoid the discrimination against those who cannot afford to get treatment.
On the occasion of the World Health Day, April 7th, and the International Roma Day, April 8th, we ask: Do we want to have a healthy nation (With healthy mothers and children) without prejudices and stereotypes, or not?