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Roma educate Roma

ROMA women in eastern Slovakia have for the past year been assisting doctors in a health project called Roma Women for Society. The project is ongoing in five Roma settlements in Slovakia - Sabinov, Stráne pod Tatrami, Výborná, Podhorany and Jurské - and there are plans for more.
The women are working side by side with local doctors to educate their fellow Roma on matters of healthcare, sex education and hygiene.


ROMA women are bringing health to their communities.
photo: Peter Šimčisko

ROMA women in eastern Slovakia have for the past year been assisting doctors in a health project called Roma Women for Society. The project is ongoing in five Roma settlements in Slovakia - Sabinov, Stráne pod Tatrami, Výborná, Podhorany and Jurské - and there are plans for more.

The women are working side by side with local doctors to educate their fellow Roma on matters of healthcare, sex education and hygiene. They also help the doctors treat light wounds and less serious infections, and teach young mothers how to look after their babies hygienically.

At the Pfizer Settlements Days of Health event October 26, the most active helpers in the project were honoured.

The Association for Culture, Education and Communication (ACEC) set up the project with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Its aim is to spread knowledge about healthcare in Roma settlements, not just in word, but in deed.

Apart from seminars on hygiene, sex education and infectious diseases, the ACEC, has trained 10 Roma women with the help of Red Cross tutors. The Roma nurses work with paediatricians, participate in patient visits, and carry first aid kits with common remedies for fever or pain.

Two of the helpers from Podhorany managed to successfully provide first aid to people injured in a car crash in the village last winter.


A ROMA doctor's assistant proudly swings her first aid kit.
photo: Peter Šimčisko

Paediatricians Eva Kuffová and Iveta Janíková are pleased with the help of their assistants.

"It is good when someone from their own environment can educate the Roma in the right habits. The health and hygiene of children in the Roma settlements is poor. We often see mange, lice and infections." Kuffová said. She stresses the need for Roma mothers to change their approach to hygiene and give their babies proper care.

Sex education is also very important, since many Roma in the settlements start having sex while still minors. The number of school-aged girls who get pregnant is growing.

The assistants work at five Roma Educational Centres. Eight others are planned - at Olejníkov, Ostrovany, Jarovnice, Krížová Ves, Spišská Belá, Ľubica, Toporec and Ihľany. The ACEC project is a long-term plan with the aim of making the Roma more self-sufficient.


Compiled by Spectator staff from TASR reports

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