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Giving green light for health
Mykola Yurchenko, chairman of board of NGO "Ternipe" Photo: Mykola Yurchenko's Facebook
Mykola Yurchenko, chairman of board of NGO "Ternipe"

Roma Health Mediators program works in Ukraine for 5 years. Now they are more than 50. It is obviously difficult to change crucially quality of life of Romani people. But efforts of mediators improve this quality step by step.

Publishing "Success stories" from Roma mediators, CF "Chirikli" as an initiator of introduction of European experience of Health Mediators in Ukraine wants to show how this initiative works, what results mediators manage to achieve. Today our interlocutor is Mykola Yurchenko.

He heads Lviv Roma public organization "Ternipe". Since 2010, in cooperation with CF “Chirikli” he works as mediator in Lviv region.

Unlike Zakarpattya there are no such large Roma settlements in Lviv region. They mainly live in Shevchenkivsky district. There are about 150 families.

- We began the work with visiting chief physicians of medical institutions in the area where Roma are living. The children's hospital was the first. Unfortunately, what we wanted for our community - free cures – could hardly be received. All of us are citizens of Ukraine. As the chief physician told me, if we have seriously ill children, we treat them at the expense of the hospital. But, unfortunately, every year financing of medicine decreases and people have to buy practically all necessary treatment stuff, irrespective of the nationality.

But we were told that if hospital personnel refused or offended Roma, we had to address the chief physician. After that the situation changed a little.

Also the mediator visited the chief physician of the policlinic. They discussed cases of indecent attitudes towards Roma and agreed that the chief physician would talk to physicians. After that he called a radiologist and told: "He will be our health mediator for you, Roma".

Mykola Yurchenko continues:

- And since then we communicate with this doctor who helps us with everything. Even there were cases when once a month he allowed 10 Roma to have internal examination free of charge that usually costs quite much.

We are glad to know that access of small Roma community of Lviv to medical services improved. So, health mediation is really effective mechanism?

- Of course, effective, - Mykola Yurchenko says. - We have found one small footpath where we have "green light", where we can solve at least some, certainly, not all global questions (unfortunately, there are serious operations, expensive and difficult treatment). But we have already achieved initial diagnostics and internal examination.

The model of Roma Health Mediators is implemented in Ukraine since 2010 by ICF “Chiricli” with the support of the Roma Health Program (Budapest) and Roma Program Initiative of the International Renaissance Foundation. The main objective is to provide support to the Roma from the state at the national and regional levels. Mediators were, first of all, representatives of Roma communities, who enjoy special confidence and honor among the Romani people, besides have a certain education level. Also among mediators there are not only the Roma by nationality, but people who are not indifferent to problems the Roma communities face. For today the network of Health Care Mediators working in Roma communities totals 55 persons. During the implementation of the project mediators provided aid to over 12 000 Roma.

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