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2003 / Education

Healthy Communities, SLOVAKIA (2003 – present)

As an integral part of its educational activities, ACEC focuses on the preparation and application of education programs and communication strategies for socially weak groups of society (the projects focus on the Roma minority in Slovakia).
The implemented projects are focused on supporting education and widening healthcare awareness in Roma settlements.
The aim of activities of ACEC within the Roma community is to bring about changes in attitudes and to support Roma interest and motivation with respect to finding solutions to their own situations.  Through the implementation of educational projects and healthcare awareness we support the development of human resources directly in the settlements themselves.
In order to achieve this, we have created educational programs and communication strategies based on the current situation, the local needs as well as the level of education and communication of the target group, i.e. the Roma settlement inhabitants.
ACEC is currently implementing Healthy Communities project  in 67 settlements.
Territorial mapping precedes project preparation. In 2002, we visited dozens of settlements and between 2002 and 2004 we initiated two pilot projects in which we were able to validate the effectiveness of the selected strategy and methodology.  On the basis of the results and experienced gained, we put together a number of educational programs reflecting the needs of individual localities, the abilities of the target group with the aim of increasing creative potential and motivation.
In order to obtain a greater understanding of the Roma issue in Slovakia as a whole, as well as the direction of the ACEC educational activities themselves, it is important to take a few important facts into consideration.
Although there are no exact statistics regarding the number of Roma inhabitants in Slovakia (many Roma declare themselves to be of Slovak or Hungarian nationality), Slovakia is one of the countries with the highest percentage representation of Roma per capita in Europe. According to estimates from various sources, the Roma population between 350 000 and 420 000, which is approximately 8% of the total population.
On the basis of the discovered information, we decided (in 2003) to implement a project focussed on spreading healthcare enlightenment, improving the healthcare situation of inhabitants of the Roma settlements, to increase the healthcare awareness and the level of education. ACEC target oriented its own educational activities in these settlements and areas of the region of Eastern Slovakia, where there are very bad, even catastrophic living conditions.
The Roma problem is multi-faceted and we don’t consider that by implementation of the project in several dozens of settlements, we will solve it at the national level. But thanks to achieved and measurable results, it represents an open model, which is working and useable in practice.
The basic results are mainly: up to 100% inoculation locally, in very good cooperation with paediatricians and general practitioners (102), going to preventive check-ups, the saving of several lives, regular awareness and improvement of the whole health-care situation of the inhabitants of the settlements in which we work. These results are proof of a very good level of the daily work of the health care assistants and coordinators in the field (71).
We are convinced that the building and development of human resources directly in the settlements, is the necessary condition for the successful implementation of any kind of project in existing conditions of Roma settlements. Because of this the condition which we set ourselves at the beginning of the project was that all education and enlightenment activities in settlements will be implemented with the inhabitants of these settlements who will be directly and actively involved in the project.
We expected the end result to be the increase of their motivation and supporting interest in solving the situation in their own area and support and development of community life. Despite the fact that this condition was shown in practice, due to the low level of education of the inhabitants of the settlements, and specific living conditions, we decided to continue according to the set goal and to find a way to strongly support the human potential which we come across.
The current, very good results are the consequence of this decision and its implementation in practice. By implementing the projects and choosing the people for educational activities and implementing projects in the field, we were working according to our own criteria. On the basis of verifying the pilot projects and our own knowledge of the Roma community (its way of thinking, values, attitude towards life, relationship to the majority) we worked out the educational programs, which except the communities differentiation as well as traditional values.
According to the existing situation mainly in isolated Roma communities, ACEC prioritises enlightenment in health and educational activities in Roma settlements. The goal of the projects is to improve the situation in the area of healthcare and education in Roma settlements and an attempt for a lasting sustained increasing of the living standards of the inhabitants.
The project  “Healthy community” is being implemented by the Association for culture, education and communication (ACEC) in cooperation with Union health insurance, which finances the project and the inoculation against hepatitis A and B and flu.
The project is focussed on supporting the spreading of enlightenment in the area of health care, increasing preventive inoculation in risk groups of the population and the overall improvement of the health status of the Roma population. The project is implemented in 67 villages with Roma populations and Roma settlements.
The Roma community living in the environment of Roma settlements has its own characteristics, which are necessary to take into consideration when implementing the project. It is not possible to implement the project without the preparation of human resources at all project levels with the emphasis on educational programs focussed on work in the Roma community. Equally important is cooperation with local councils, paediatricians and general practitioners in regions and gaining the understanding and support of local inhabitants.
The health care assistants are inhabitants of certain areas and the majority (98%) are inhabitants of settlements in which they are carrying out their activities. Coordinators are also Roma from specific areas. Health care assistants and coordinators attend educational, communication and specialist training at regular intervals. Besides daily agreed work in the field, they are also carrying out support for the enlightenment activities such as organising lectures on hygiene, infectious diseases, sex education and so on. Due to this fact the implementation of the project is influencing the overall level of community life in settlements.
The primary target group of the project are inhabitants of 67 Roma settlements. The secondary target groups of the project are: a) health care assistants, b) coordinators, c) representatives of local councils, d) general practitioners and paediatricians in the regions.
The goals of the project – Healthy community – and project activities arise from studies carried out in limited areas and mainly from personal experience from several years of implementation of the program of health care enlightenment in settlements.:
• The implementation of a model of spreading health care enlightenment in settlements with the goal of increasing health care awareness of the Roma population (Roma health care assistants – every day activity in the field and spreading health care enlightenment)
• Increasing the health status of the Roma population
• Increasing the informativeness of the Roma population in transmutable diseases (infectious and parasitic diseases)
• Improving informativeness of the Roma population of reachable health care, patient rights and the rights of insured people
• Increasing inoculation and number of preventive health check ups of Roma children of all ages as well as adults
• Increase in the prevention of selected transmutable diseases (Hepatitis A and B)
• Improving communication among paediatricians, general practitioners and the Roma community
• Improvement of the situation in Roma settlements in the area of personal and communal hygiene
• Increasing enlightenment in the area of sex education
• Increasing the education level in settlements (health care assistants and coordinators absolved three educational and two specialist trainings)
• Increase of health care awareness of the Roma population
• Increase of employment levels in Roma settlements (health care assistants and coordinators)
• Strengthening the position of woman in the Roma community
• Studies of project progress and results
For the successful implementation of the project in the field, it is necessary to have consistent preparation of human resources – EDUCATION, realization of concrete project activities according to worked out manuals of activities – WORK IN THE FIELD, and following a proven system of project management – MANAGEMENT.