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Czech Public Health Institute focuses on Romani children's health, odds are against those in social exclusion

16.7.2018 5:33
--ilustrační foto--
--ilustrační foto--

The health of Romani people is worse than that of the majority population in the Czech Republic. This fact is caused primarily, for socially excluded Romani people, by their insufficient awareness about healthful lifestyles, their lower educations, and their lower incomes.

The National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) began to focus on socially excluded localities several years ago. According to the Czech Government Report on the State of the Romani Minority for 2016, what has very much stood the test of time in practice is aid that combines health care with social work.

From year to year, however, instead of such services being beefed up and expanded into other regions, a gradual suppression of them has been observed to be underway. While in 2015 a total of nine such health aides were working in socially excluded localities in four regions, there were just six in three regions in 2016.

Despite the apparent benefits of the health aides' work, the systemic anchoring of this service, which combines health care and social services, has not yet come to pass. From the study that has now been produced by the NIPH, it can be seen that tuberculosis, for example, afflicts the inhabitants of these localities 10 times more frequently than it does the rest of the population.

Heart attacks happen among the socially excluded twice as often, and depression, according to the report, afflicts people in social exclusion three times as much as everybody else. According to the report, it would significantly aid people in the localities if they were to get more information about health care.

Unfortunately, due to their daily concerns about making a living and their complicated living conditions, socially excluded people frequently do not have a chance to access such information. "Three-quarters of the inhabitants here have never gone beyond primary education [ninth grade]," explains Hana Janata, a doctor with the institute, to the daily Dení, Plzeň edition.

The result is that socially excluded people's comparatively worse diets directly affect their children. "That [deprivation] comes full circle: A lack of proper nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle impacts the school achievements of these children and their later inclusion into society," Janata says.

Milan Kvapil, head physician at the Clinic of Internal Medicine at the Motol Teaching Hospital, told the daily that, for example, "People who suffer from diabetes do not necessarily suspect that is the case for the first eight years of the disease." The accessibility of medical services is significantly limited in socially excluded localities, and for that reason the people living in them take no interest in preventive examinations.

Socially excluded people just seek the aid of a doctor in acute states when diseases are more developed and it is frequently too late to prevent further deterioration of their health. For that reason, such people frequently only live to the age of 65, which is 18 years less than people living outside such localities.

The Czech Health Ministry and the NIPH have collaboratively launched several preventive programs aimed mainly at children living in such environments. "We visit the schools in excluded localities," Janata says.

"We teach the children, for example, what kinds of snacks they should eat, or how and when to correctly brush their teeth. Through a playful form of instruction we explain to them why they should not drink alcohol or smoke," Janata says.

In some selected localities, according to Janata, special "health days" are held during which people can be examined. "It works," she says.

"Through the children the information gets to the adults," the NIPH doctor confirms. According to the most recent information and research from the Czech Governemnt Agency for Social Inclusion there are between 95 000 and 115 000 socially excluded persons living in the Czech Republic, i.e., people grappling with poverty, who are concentrated into 606 socially excluded localities.

brf, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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