Assessment of Roma Health Mediators Activities and access to health care among Roma communities.

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Country/partner countries

Project lead partner/organization and contact person (e-mail, links) project website
Trnava University, Public Health Department

Project information – start and end date (if available)
AV 4/0026/07
2007- 2009

Summary (goals and purposes of the project)
The project funded by the Ministry of Education in the Slovak Republic was focused on assessing effectiveness of health mediators in Slovakia. Our target groups were Roma people, general practitioners and health mediators. Health needs assessment is a systematic approach to ensuring that the health service uses its resources to improve the health of the population in the most efficient way. Taking into account combination of epidemiological, qualitative and quantitative methods as the best way how to describe health problems of the community, to identify health inequalities and access to services there was an intention to present experiences from the field.

Results of the project
The analysis was initiated using data from 800 completed questionnaires administered by the Ministry of Health in the Slovak Republic. Respondents were in age 15 – 65 and they live in Roma settlements where health mediators work. An average age of Roma population was 32.6 years (SD ± 10.52). A proportion of Roma older than 60 years was only 0.4%. We have found low level of education, a very low employment rate (14.7%) and an insufficient access to drinking water (43.6%). In Roma population the consumption of meat was very frequent (60% every day), consumption of vegetables and fruits was quite high (52% every week). The prevalence of smoking was very high (58%). The average age of the first sex experience was 16.2 (SD ± 1.49) and the average age of the first child born was 17.8 (SD ± 2.1). Self health assessment refers to 80.3% of respondents feeling in perfect health.

Who will benefit from this project (target group)
With growing concerns about racial and ethnic disparities in health, there wasa need to focused on multicultural health services provision facilitated through health mediators and health care providers. Situation of marginalized groups has multiple and interrelated caused which reinforce each other. The improvement of their situation calls for sector-wide policies as well as for specific interventions. Culture, as an important part of social community characteristics, we can include into socio-economic determinants of health. Socio-economic determinants of health are major determinants of health and association between worse socioeconomic conditions and health is well known and proved. Socioeconomic status has been considered the most influential single contributor to premature mortality and morbidity by many public health researchers. We can promote Roma health and health of other socially deprived communities taking into account multicultural approach and consecutively improve their access to health care.
Their access to health care is complicated due to geographical isolation, culture barriers, and language barriers. Multicultural approach is a big challenge for public health professionals and health care providers within the process of community empowerment. Project was focused on effectiveness of health mediators in Slovakia. Our target groups were Roma people, general practicionares and health mediators.

Sources of funding
Ministry of education.