In order to be able to create a quality curriculum for Roma health education, a handbook for trainers and a Local Health Action Plan for Roma, it was necessary to conduct surveys with the Roma population to see their knowledge and views on the topic.
The first survey conducted by Sumnal as part of the project aimed to involve Roma in determining the types of activities that will be implemented in the Health Education Center and that will ultimately promote the improvement of their health situation. Through these activities, participants will learn something that will help contribute to this improvement by themselves.
The survey was conducted from 17-22 December, 2020 with fifty Roma from Bitola. Of the respondents, 44% were men and 56% were women aged 17 to 65. They were offered twenty educational activities from which each respondent had to choose ten. According to the analysis, the ten most attractive activities for learning and improving the health status of Roma are:
- “Coffee Talk”;
- Storytelling for kids;
- “World Café”;
- Tell us your story…;
- Healthy cooking;
- Round Table;
- Market place;
These results will be taken into account and together with the results of other surveys conducted in partner countries will determine the ten most desirable activities that will be part of the curriculum and the handbook for health education.
In order to be able to create a good Health Local Action Plan for Roma, it was necessary to examine the knowledge and the measures and activities undertaken by the local Roma population. Therefore, in parallel with the previously mentioned survey, another one was conducted in the same period with the same group of respondents.
Out of fifty respondents, 55.1% were women and 44.9% were men. 42% of them belonged to the age group between 31 and 45 years. Regarding the marital status, out of 50 respondents, 76% stated that they are married, 16% that they are divorced or widowed, and 8% that they are single. According to the number of children, the largest number (40%) stated that they have three children.
The remaining questions were divided into six groups: health care, cancer prevention, vaccination, addictions, sex education and contraception, and hygiene.
Regarding health care, 92% of respondents answered that they have health insurance, and 90% have access to clean drinking water.
Regarding cancer prevention, 86% answered that they do not know the free cancer prevention checks in our country. To the question “Do you get your lungs checked?” 36.7% answered no, and the most common explanation given was that “there was no need”. To maintain women’s reproductive health, 39.3% of female respondents answered that they visit a gynecologist once or twice a year. Regarding going to a breast cancer prevention check, 59.3% answered that they do not go to the explanation because “there is no need” or that “they did not know that they should do it”. These answers confirm the result of the next question to which 71.4% answered that they do not know about the possibility of a mammography. To the question “Do you know how to check your breasts yourself?” 66.7% answered that they do not know. To maintain male reproductive health, 22.7% of male respondents answered that they do not check their prostate without explaining why, and 31.8% explained that “there is no need”. To the question “What other cancer prevention measures do you use?” most of the respondents answered that they do not use or apply anything.
In the section on vaccination, to the question “Which vaccines are offered for free in our country?” there were 40 answers given and it was often pointed out that all vaccines are offered for free or that they do not know. To the question “Do you have a vaccination pass?” 70% answered that they have, but first we had to explain to them what it is. All respondents answered that they had received the vaccines listed in the questionnaire, but most of them do not remember exactly when they received them. When we asked them if their children had received or will receive the mentioned vaccines, all respondents answered affirmatively.
In the section on addictions, to the question “Do you know people in your community who are addicted?” 65.3% answered in the affirmative, and 45.7% of them answered that they know many such people. To the question “Which addictions do you know the symptoms of?” 90% answered that they know the symptoms of alcoholism, and 80% of drug addiction. Consequently, to the next question, 100% of the answers given indicated that the biggest problem in the community is drug addiction, followed by alcoholism with 62.8%. To the question “Do they know where or whom to address if they / a friend / family or community member needs help in this field?” 40% answered that they do not know, and 58% answered in the affirmative, explaining that they would contact an ambulance/ doctor, police or the hoca (Muslim priest). To the question “How many of the addicted Rom you know use help?” 58.7% answered that they know only a few. 68% of respondents know that addiction is an illness that can be treated.
In the field of sex education and contraception, 73.5% of respondents answered that sex education is needed. 59.5% of them think that it should be introduced from the age of 16, and 37.8% think that it should be done by parents and schools. To the question “Do you know measures /means to prevent pregnancy?” 31% of the respondents answered that they do not know. To the next question 53.5% answered that they do not know measures/means to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, and 76.2% do not know the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases.
In the field of hygiene, 42.9% answered that they go to the dentist more than twice a year, and 45.9% answered that they take their children once or twice a year. To the open question “What measures should be implemented (also by the Municipality) to improve the hygiene situation in your community?” the most common answers were:
- to solve the problem with water supply, infrastructure, housing, sewerage, to respect the measures, to collect garbage regularly;
- to place more waste bins, containers, to organize actions for cleaning and disinfection and to inform / educate the citizens;
- to have more Roma employees, especially women, in the local utility company, to appoint people responsible for maintaining order and hygiene in the community, to punish those who pollute and throw garbage on the street;
- adopt an action plan.
For each set of questions at the end of each section there was an open-ended question about what to expect from a health mediator in the areas of health care, cancer prevention, vaccination, addictions, sex education and contraception, and hygiene. From the given answers mostly it is expected to inform the citizens, to have more education through seminars and workshops, to work more in the field, especially with young people and to explain the work of the health mediator because many did not know what would work and why he/she is needed.
According to the conducted surveys, we can conclude that Roma mostly want to learn and upgrade through: “Coffee Talk”, storytelling for children, “World Cafe”, sharing personal experiences, debates, workshops, healthy cooking activities, round table, market organization and quiz.
Regarding health education and leading a healthy life, according to the answers received, Roma need education regarding cancer prevention and the measures offered in our country, which vaccines are offered free of charge, how to help addicts in the community, what are the measures to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases, why the health mediator is important and what is his/her role.
These surveys will be very useful in creating educational content for the curriculum and handbook, as well as creating a Local Health Action Plan for Roma. This will achieve the main goal of the project – improving the health situation and education of Roma.