The health insurance, unequal treatment of using health services, immunization of Roma children, improving the access to gynaecological services, engagement of the health workers from Roma nationality are the priority areas where there is a need to act, says Senad Memedi from the Department for European integrations in the Ministery for health in the interview for the EDNO Magazine.
ONE: Are there any novelties and what are they if any in the National strategy for the Roma, in the part for health?
Senad MEMEDI: If we compare the National strategy for Roma from 2004 and the latest one from 2014, in the part of health we can notice that in the most of the part are detected the same problems that the Roma population in Macedonia is facing. The health insurance, unequal treatment of using health services, immunization of Roma children, improving the access to gynaecological services, engagement of the health workers from Roma nationality are the priority areas where there is a need to act. The expected results of the implementation of the planned activities present in the new Strategy, again are set up and defined generally because of the lack of the baseline data about the health status of the Roma in Macedonia. The problem remained the same during the preparation of the strategy from 2004.
ONE: What are the most complex, the most difficult areas that should be systematically covered? Healt insurance, (non)discrimination, access to the health services and health workers, immunization or?
Senad MEMEDI: The health problems, those while using the health services that the Roma population is facing with are the same and they are clearly defined in the Strategy, and some of them are already mentioned in your question. It is really hard to point out one burning issue that should be prioritized. But, if I need to mention one, I will say it is the health insurance. I think that it is necessary simplifying the procedure for acquiring the right for health insurance and adequate legal changes to overcome the problems that the citizens are facing with and those who were point out by the civil sector.
ONE: What is the plan for 2015 regarding the health services for the Roma women from the category of social and economically vulnerable groups?
Senad MEMEDI: Having on mind that this problem is lasting for many years – and that is not having a gynaecological hospital in the municipality of Suto Orizari, the Program for active health protection of mothers and children have assumed this activity in 2015 as well and that is securing a gynaecological that once a week will performing examinations for the women from this municipality. Of course, that is a temporary solution. Within the same program in 2014 there were many activities for the Roma women, but because of the very low interest for some of the activities, they are not planned for 2015 any more.
ONE: Is there a noted success with the Roma health mediators?
Senad MEMEDI: The project – Roma health mediators started in 2013 and it is a result of a successful cooperation between the Ministry for health and the civil sector. The goal of this project is improving the health status of the Roma population through easing the access to health and social services, establishing an upper level of trust in a patient – doctor relationship and establishing habits for taking care of their own health condition and the others. The mediators have wide domain of acting and through their work they are solving some of the most burning issues that the Roma people in Macedonia are facing with. Up until now, they have reached great success in detecting unimmunized Roma children or children that have not received all of the mandatory vaccines, help with the requiring the right for health insurance, help with the choice of the doctor, as well as informing the access to free of charge health services that are available in the preventive and curative programs of the Ministry for health. At the moment there are total 14 Roma health mediators, present in 10 municipalities. In the following period, it is planned that number to be bigger both with the Roma mediators and the municipalities.