Roma health improvement project “Connect” continues
Belgrade, 26 May 2011 – Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic, UNICEF Director in Serbia Judita Reichenberg and Telenor Serbia CEO Kjell Morten Johnsen today signed an agreement on continuing cooperation within project “Connect”, aimed at improving the health of the Roma.
Stankovic told a press conference that since the project began, 120,708 Roma have been registered, of whom 48,968 are children. He added that 8,238 children have been vaccinated, 4,924 women had their gynaecology check up and 14,468 Roma chose their general practitioners, while 1,333 children enrolled in schools.
The Minister recalled that in 2008 the Ministry of Health launched a project of health mediators for Roma, within which it gathered data on 95,708 of Roma and opened records for 820 Roma settlements inhabited by 26,347 families.
He said that the relevant Ministry established connections with UNICEF and Telenor on this project. Telenor secured telephones, portable computers and internet, thus linking 75 mediators in 60 municipalities and creating a data base that is now used by all state institutions.
Reichenberg noted that infant mortality in Roma children under five years of age has halved over the last several years and the number of children enrolled in schools has doubled.
She, however, noted that mortality rates among Roma is twice higher than in the general population.
Thanks to the partnership of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and Telenor, through the “Connect” project, which has lasted more than a year, the work of health mediators aiding Roma families in Serbia to exercise all rights in the field of health care and insurance has been promoted.
Mediators are Roma women and mothers who have completed at least primary education; they are employed at health centres and trained to quickly and effectively provide support to Roma families.