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Healthcare Mediators Increase Efficiency through Telecom Partnership with UNICEF Serbia


By: Vesna Savić Đukić, UNICEF Serbia

In order to improve health and quality of life of the Roma in Serbia, the Ministry of Health launched a health care mediator project in 2008 called Povezivanje (“Connecting”). UNICEF and the international telecom company Telenor joined the project in 2010 to help improve the work of health mediators by providing equipment, additional education and training…

In partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, the Telenor Group provides health mediators and local health offices with laptops and mobile broadband which reduces waiting time due to double reporting and logistics; handsets and free SMS to enable and encourage them to reach the Roma people with basic information without having to travel in person; group SMS function in order to enable the mediators to reach entire settlements efficiently in relation to important news (e.g. field vaccination visits); zero-base all calls between the mediators to enable knowledge sharing and individual e-mail accounts to support knowledge sharing among co-workers.

As part of the project, Roma healthcare mediators are provided with modern technical equipment and participate in a one-day training course to learn more efficient communication solutions to better meet the needs of Roma families. With access to the services and equipment provided by Telenor, mediators are able to make free mobile phone calls to their colleagues and to the Roma families they support, while special software laptops help facilitate reporting and communication with institutions.

Selected healthcare mediators are women and mothers with a minimum of completed primary education who have undergone a training course covering public health, chronic non-infectious diseases prevention, communication skills, hygiene, infectious-disease prevention, vaccination, rights in the area of healthcare and health insurance, family neglect and violence, and human trafficking.

UNICEF’s role includes additional training to the participants of Povezivanje for them to assist with registration of children in Roma families. “For several years, Telenor has been cooperating with UNICEF in other countries where it operates, and now we cooperate in Serbia as well. In the Povezivanje project, we wish to join forces and achieve visible results we look forward to,” said Vesna Savić Đukić, Head of UNICEF Department for Private-Sector Partnerships.

The Povezivanje project has resulted in 60 newly trained mediators in 50 cities, who have thus far made 56,178 visits and registered 102,661 Roma for the project. “In addition to the registration of Roma habitats, personal and health care documents have been provided for 5677 people, while 4800 children have been vaccinated and 1672 pregnant women and young mothers have undergone a medical check-up,” said Dubravka Šaranović, Senior Consultant in the Ministry of Health.

For more information, please contact: Vesna Savić Đukić, Private Sector Partnerships UNICEF Serbia.