UNICEF in Kosovo moves a step closer to mothers and children in need
Home visits are still proving to be a way of reaching those most in need through efficient and free health services
Mothers, fathers and children, are gathered in the reception room of the Main Family Health Center in Gjakova. There is an event going on, which many have been waiting for. Among the participants is the Head Nurse and Home Visiting Coordinator, Leonora Bakija. “She knows all the names of the children by heart,” says the Mayor of Gjakova Ardian Gjini as he describes the personality of this woman who will further play an extremely important role in our story. Kind and very close, the nurse greets all mothers and fathers. For some children, it seems to be a familiar face because they do not hesitate to jump in her arms. And she never hesitates to take them in her arms and play with them.
Leonora Bakija was proclaimed “Honorary Citizen” in 2019 by the Municipality of Gjakova, as a result of her work as a key nurse working on home visits. For miles, she and her staff have often walked to reach mothers and children in need. Home Visiting is a program implemented by the Ministry of Health at the local level for primary care and is supported by UNICEF and the Luxembourg Government, and has already expanded to 22 municipalities in Kosovo. UNICEF Office in Kosovo, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Municipality of Gjakova, as well as with the support of the Luxembourg Government, launched the branding of Home Visiting program. Since launching this program, in 2015, so far 30,000 children have been visited and 700 nurses trained, mainly of Family Medicine Centers, who have provided services and advice to new parents, especially mothers and their children. "It is a pleasure to provide services where they are really needed because only in this way we are feeling fulfilled in our profession, knowing that we are fulfilling the mission we have sworn to," says nurse Leonora Bakija. Mothers with children with diabetes, mothers with breastfeeding problems, others with poor economic conditions, and many other cases have been met by Leonora and her team during home visits. And in most cases this has been done walking for miles on foot in absence of means of transportation.
Given the importance of this program, especially for mothers and children, and families in need, the UNICEF office in Kosovo on Friday donated a car for the purpose of conducting home visits to the MFMC in Gjakova and reaching children and families in the most rural areas. During the launching ceremony of the branding of the home visiting program, the Mayor of Gjakova Ardian Gjini thanked UNICEF, the Luxembourg Embassy and the Ministry of Health for expanding the program of home visits. He also spoke about the vital role that all nurses and medical staff play in the practical implementation of this program. “I was amazed to find out that nurses know all the names of the children and family members they visit and their condition. It means a lot to us as a municipality because in this way we understand that efficient services are being provided throughout the municipality and especially where it is most needed, ”said Gjini. Even the Ambassador of Luxembourg, whose government financially supports the program, Natasha Gomes has been extremely satisfied about the cooperation with UNICEF and the fact that her Government is supporting such an important program for families in Kosovo. "We are very pleased to be helping Kosovo families through UNICEF and the Ministry of Health," she said.
The Head of UNICEF Office in Kosovo, Mr. Murat Sahin pledged that UNICEF will continue to support the implementation of Home Visits in order to reach every child and mother in Kosovo. He thanked the Ministry of Health and the Luxembourg Government for the support while announcing that the program would continue. At the end of the ceremony, MFMC in Gjakova was also given a car by UNICEF for the purpose of carrying out home visits in order to reach every child in the Municipality of Gjakova. For UNICEF, it is important to provide efficient health services for every mother and child, and home visits have already proven to be the adequate and efficient programs in achieving this. We are happy that we will continue to be closer to children.