New Equipment for More Efficient Work of the Roma Health Mediators

October 2015 – At the event held on October 23, in the Telenor premises, seventy-five Roma health mediators got new equipment and additional training for work within the project “Povezivanje”, which is implemented by the Ministry of Health, UNICEF Serbia and Company Telenor. In this way, the process of registering and following the health status of the Roma families will be improved and accelerated, as well as better quality information and education of the Roma children in Serbia provided.

The project of health mediators was launched by the Ministry of Health in 2008, which wanted to improve the health and the life quality of the Roma in Serbia. UNICEF and Telenor joined the project “Povezivanje” so that, by organising additional training and providing computers and mobile phones, they would help establish a system of registering and following the health status of the Roma families and children, as well as the provision of service in local communities. Thanks to the project, this is the first time in Serbia that we have a database on the Roma, which is used by state institutions.

“It's an exceptional pleasure that the Ministry of Health is participating in the project "Povezivanje", with our partners from UNICEF and Telenor Serbia, which I would like to thank once again for everything they are doing for the implementation of this project in the best quality way. Until now, through an advertised competition, 75 health mediators have been engaged in 60 municipalities on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, and 35 million dinars have been earmarked in the 2015 budget for their work. They are all employed in the Community Nursing Services of Health Centres. However, since their daily work requires field work, where they have to connect the Roma community with health services, educate the Roma population in health care, participate in health and immunisation promotional campaigns, help the Roma in procuring documents, in training, the equipment, which they will get today, is necessary so that their work would be integrated and timely updated. It's only through joint work and additional investments in the development of the project "Povezivanje" that the mediators will continue to represent a link between our health system and the Roma population, which in that way will have the opportunity to be recognised as an equal part of our society”, pointed out Professor Berislav Vekić PhD, State Secretary in the Ministry of Health.

Thanks to new equipment and internet access, mediators will be able to immediately enter these data in databases and, at the same time, have a possibility to share all educational materials, carry online training, etc. with the Roma families and children. In this way, efficiency of the mediators’ field work is additionally improved.

“Health education of the Roma population is exceptionally important. Trainings for health mediators and the availability of edited educational materials, together with modern equipment for their implementation, will help mediators to work, together with the Roma parents, on the promotion of development, safety, nutrition and the overall health and well-being of the Roma children”, pointed out Michel Saint-Lot, Director of UNICEF Serbia. He thanked Company Telenor, which by its support to the introduction of information-communication technologies in the work of health mediators already in 2010, opened the way to innovative provision and monitoring of services in the Roma communities. “Participation in providing assistance to children should be an inspiration for the whole private sector in Serbia in promoting true corporate responsibility and the culture of giving”, concluded Mr Saint-Lot.

In the previous years, the mediators have fully completed their role of a link between the health system and the Roma population. The Roma access to the health services significantly increased, the mortality of the Roma children in Roma settlement was cut in half and their work helped the Roma families implement many other rights that they are entitled to.

“Within the project, thanks to our services, knowledge, equipment and mobile internet, health mediators – 75 of them, in 59 towns and municipalities in Serbia – manage to connect the Roma with different institutions and thus help them learn how to exercise their civil rights. Until now, 170,278 visits have been made and altogether 140,408 Roma, from unsanitary slum settlement, registered. Our privilege is to operate in the industry, which one of the key drivers of change and sustainability. Constant aspirations for change make our business operations sustainable, and it is based on our firm belief that it is our task to help people so that they could make the best possible use of all the advantages of connections. The new technical equipment, as well as improved database for registration, represent the next step within Telenor strategy Internet for All”, said Marija Vujanić, Director of Communication and External Affairs, Telenor.

The project “Povezivanje” found its place on the global map of socially responsible business, taking a position of an example of excellent cooperation of the state, non-governmental and corporate sectors, which moved positive social changes. Telenor Group and UNICEF have signed a Global Cooperation Agreement, which includes both financial, as well as technical support aimed at social inclusion of vulnerable groups in all countries of Telenor operations