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Combining the knowledge and experience of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF with Telenor’s telecommunication technologies is significantly improving Roma families’ health and quality of life in Serbia.

© UNICEF Serbia 2011
From left to right: Senior Vice President of Telenor Central and Eastern Europe Kjell-Morten Johnsen, UNICEF Area Representative Judita Reichenberg, Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic

May 26th, 2011. – Thanks to the “Connecting“ Project, implemented by the Serbian Ministry of Health, UNICEF and Telenor, data on 95,708 Roma people was collected over the past year, with registration cards completed for 820 Roma settlements, and detailed description of living conditions provided for 26,347 Roma families.  The Project has contributed significantly to the education of Roma families in Serbia and helped them to exercise their healthcare and health insurance rights.

By combining their experience and knowledge with modern technologies, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and Telenor, have substantially improved and facilitated the activities of healthcare mediators. “Since the beginning of the the Roma Healthcare Mediators project,   120,708 Roma have been registered, 8,238 children have been vaccinated, 4,924 Roma women have visited a gynaecologist, 14,468 Roma have selected a doctor, and 1,333 children have been admitted to school. The support provided by the Ministry of Health to the “Connecting“ Project has helped the healthcare mediators in numerous ways to do a better quality, more efficient job“ commented Mr. Zoran Stankovic, Minister of Health. 

This successful project partnership is set to continue and to connect an additional 15 healthcare mediators in 10 additional cities, making 75 mediators in 60 cities all together in Serbia. They are accompanied by 60 visiting nurses, who also visit Roma settlements, thus connecting Roma people with healthcare institutions.

“I would like to welcome Telenor’s social responsibility and the healthcare system’s openness to introducing innovative methodology into the operating procedures of primary healthcare as a whole. I especially commend the commitment of Roma healthcare mediators who have mastered the technology and converted it into practice with perseverance and energy, in order to provide a better quality life for those who are in the greatest need”, said Judita Reichenberg, UNICEF Area Representative.

With mobile computers, telephones and Internet, provided by Telenor, it is easier for the healthcare mediators to communicate among themselves and with the Roma, and in the course of the preceding year, they have created a database, presently used by all Government institutions. UNICEF contributed to the “Connecting“ Project by arranging additional training courses aimed at improving the position of Roma children and acquiring the skills and knowledge needed for record keeping.

There are hundreds of thousands of Roma people in Serbia. Most of them are not included in the system register, and lack basic personal documents. This prevents them exercising their fundamental rights to healthcare, education, employment and other services. Wishing to improve the health and quality of life of the Roma, the Ministry of Health launched the Roma Healthcare Mediator project in 2008.  Healthcare mediators are Roma mothers and women, who have completed at least elementary education, and who are employed in the primary healthcare centres and trained to provide assistance to Roma families in a prompt and efficient way.



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