| VII National Meeting “Initiative for Health and Vaccination” |
On 27th September 2013 in Granite hall of the Council of
Ministers the VII National Meeting “Initiative for Health and Vaccination” took
place. The project is implemented by the National Council for Cooperation on
Ethnic and Integration Issues at the Council of Ministers together with the
Health Commission at the Parliament and the Ministry of Health. Initiative
partners are the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Ministry of Education,
Ministry of Finance, Association “National Network of Health Mediators” (NNHM),
National Association of General Practitioners in Bulgaria, Bulgarian
Association for Vaccination, patient organizations, with the support of
The meeting gathered representatives from the state, NGO and private
sector from Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Hungary
with the aim to discuss the practices for improving the access to healthcare of
the vulnerable groups belonging to ethnic minorities in the region and to
present the Bulgarian experience in prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases
as well as the possibilities for extending the project in other areas of work.
The meeting was
opened by the Chair of the Health Commission d-r Nigiar Sahlim who is our
partner in the efforts to improve the healthcare in Roma communities since
2003. She shared that the lacking immunizations among large groups of the
society is one of the major problems in Bulgarian healthcare and that the
strengthening of the statute of Health mediators is one of the big achievements
of the vaccination project.
D-r Hasan Ademov, Minister of labour and social policy also addressed
the guests of the event: “Grace to the unique model for cooperation in 2010 the
measles epidemic outbreak was put under control. The next year Bulgarian
experience was transferred to Serbia and FYROM where a project for training of
Health mediators working on the field was implemented”. Now Health mediators from several countries are united within the international
project “Together for better health – from us, for us” in which Bulgarian
experience is leading.
D-r Boyko Penkov, Deputy Minister of healthcare stated that “one of the
project aims is increasing the information of the society with regard to preserving
health and lowering child mortality”.
The guests of the event were saluted by d-r Mark Muskat, Consultant at
the European regional office of WHO and Ms Emilia Toncheva, Head of WHO office
in Bulgaria. D-r Muskat shared that one of the main objectives of WHO is to
strengthen the role, scope and abilities of Health mediators to serve the
vulnerable groups of the population and to be supporters of the General
The Director of European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
(ECDC) D-r Mark Sprenger sent a video-message to the participants in which he
underlined the Bulgarian experience in coping with health challenged among
minority groups and presented the ECDC project “Let’s talk about protection” in
which Bulgaria is chosen as a pilot country for its implementation.
D-r Angel Kunchev, Chief State Health Inspector presented Bulgarian
experience in overcoming the measles epidemic in 2010 and underlined that main
reason for success is the established cooperation which unites the Health
mediators, Regional Health Inspectorates and General Practitioners. He
underlined the need for permanent increase of the number of Health mediators
working in the country.
The Secretary of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and
Integration Issues (NCCEDI) at the Council of Ministers, Ms Rositsa Ivanova
shared that the Health mediators are fundamental part of component “Healthcare”
of the National Strategy for Roma Integration 2012-2020. “I am proud that this
policy is sustainable throughout all these years”.
Representatives of state institutions and medical specialists from
Albania, Macedonia, Slovakia and Hungary also presented their national
strategies for Roma integration and improving their health status.
Prof. Ivailo Tournev, Chairman of Ethnic Minorities Health Problems
Foundation, member of the NCCEDI and member of NNHM presented the process of
institutionalization and strengthening of the profession Health mediator in
Bulgaria. He underlined that the cooperation with GlaxoSmithKline Company in
project “Initiative for Health and Vaccination” since 2010 has been a great
incitement for the Health mediator’s programme.
Reader Yavor Ivanov, Chairman of Bulgarian Society for Lung Diseases
pointed out the importance of the participation of Health mediators in the
implementation of national programmes for prevention, control and treatment of
chronic respiratory diseases.
The filed work and the main challenges for the Health mediators were
presented through the experience of Krasimir Kirilov from Sliven and Zahari
Atanasov from Chubra village.
Prof. Mira Kozhuharova, National Epidemiology Consultant and Diliana
Dilkova from NNHM presented details about ECDC project “Let’s talk about
Paul van Hoof, Coordinator of the international project of pharmaceutical
company GlaxoSmithKline “Together for better health – from us, for us” which
gathers the efforts of Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary for improving
the access of vulnerable groups to healthcare and education presented the
project and its main goals.
In Bulgaria each year 15 Health mediators work for the project – every
next year they are appointed to the respective municipalities through state
After the official part of the meeting the
guests divided in 3 groups: the representatives of state institutions and
medical specialists discussed the importance of Health mediator’s role and the
institutionalization of the profession; training module was organized for all
Health mediators from Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia; the participants in the
international project “Together for better health – from us, for us” discussed
the project results, shared good practices and outlined the next steps.