Czech project focuses on health in socially excluded localities, Romani men live an average of 57 years and Romani women, 65
The Saste Roma (Healthy Romani People) project has begun at the International Center for Clinical Research at St. Anne's University Hospital in Brno, Czech Republic and will address how to improve health outcomes for Romani people and others living in excluded localities. The three-year project aims to increase health literacy in excluded localities, where preventive care is least accessed.
People will be able to learn through the project about the most serious diseases, how to prevent them, and what to do if they suspect they are ill. "Every project targeting the health of populations in socially excluded localities is quite necessary, and health impacts for such inhabitants that are positive will then be reflected in the overall improvement of their social situations," MUDr. Marie Nejedlá, the head of the Center for Public Health Promotion at the National Institute of Public Health, has confirmed.
Dr. Nejedlá and her fieldworker team will be disseminating educational instruments from the project directly in the communities being targeted. The average lifespan of men who are Romani in the Czech Republic is just to age 57, while the average lifespan of women who are Romani is to age 65.
In comparison with the majority population, that is approximately 18 fewer years of life. Romani people also suffer twice as frequently from multiple diagnoses (i.e., more than one serious ailment simultaneously).
Lack of awareness about how to best take care of one's personal health, lack of information, lack of support for changing one's lifestyle, and inhibitions about visiting doctors are frequently to blame. That is exactly what the Saste Roma project should change, which concentrates on preventing serious diseases in excluded localities, the inhabitants of which are most often Romani people in particular.
The outcome of the three-year project will be its many educational instruments, from informational brochures to cultural events, e-learning to mobile phone applications. "The project focuses on developing, implementing and evaluating a campaign in excluded localities about health that will run for several years. We will cover the most serious diseases, whether they be cerebrovascular, oncological or mental illnesses," Hana Maršálková, head of the Saste Roma project and manager of the Public Health Group in the Cerebrovascular Research Program, which is implementing the project, told news server Romea.cz.
"The online tools, applications, and outreach activities will be accessible to and usable by the broader public, and we are also dedicating a special section to schoolchildren," Maršálková said. An expert team is working on the outputs that currently includes 40 professionals - doctors, educators, experts on excluded localities, health marketing specialists and sociologists.
Many institutions have also joined the project - several clinics at St. Anne's University Hospital Brno, the University Hospital Brno, and the Masaryk Institute of Oncology. An important factor in the success of the project will also be involving fieldworkers from the National Institute of Public Health, Regional Public Health Authorities or nonprofit organizations.
"The project will also be supplemented through a questionnaire survey in the target areas that will map residents' attitudes and knowledge and will also verify to what degree the health interventions have been effective. Thanks to this academic approach, we aim to arrange for the project and its follow-up activities to be as effective as possible," said Professor Robert Mikulík, the guarantor of the project at St. Anne's University Hospital Brno and of its cerebrovascular diseases section.
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