About Healthy Communities



Richard Koky from Svit says: „We’ve got a chance to improve other people’s lives- health is the most important thing, but many people forget about it while solving their existential problems. Many of us go see a doctor only after we realize we might have a serious problem with our health; when we feel weak or when something hurts.” Richard is the main field coordinator to the 213 Roma Health Mediators (RHMs) who work in 218 Roma communities. They work in counties of Banska Bystrica, Presov, Kosice and Zilina regions (areas with the biggest Roma populations according to the data of Ministry of Work) and they know their clients very well. Segregated Roma settlements are built on average 900 meters away from the town.

Mediators are supervised by 22 Coordinators who are chosen on the basis of the same criteria as the Roma Health Mediators. It helps to create trust among the inhabitants of the segregated settlements and at the same time it builds a metaphorical bridge between them and the majority population.

The biggest success story is the one of Jozef Gado (59) from a town of Kamenna Poruba in the Vranov nad Toplou county. Gado started to work as a RHM three years ago and in November 2014 he was elected as Mayor. The work of RHM is very important for Roma.

The living conditions combined with low health awareness among the settlement inhabitants increase the occurrence and spread of infectious and other diseases. This has a direct influence on bad health of the inhabitants of Roma communities. RHMs also help to increase the sense of responsibility for one’s own health among the Roma. Through the work of RHMs, several sources of tuberculosis, scabies, or jaundice outbreaks were identified. They also handled several labors in shacks where only candle light was available.

Mediators know the life in the project locations very well because most of them have lived in these communities all their lives. In the past year of the project, RHMs helped 67,639 clients in the area with Roma population in the size of 250,000 people. Accumulative number of all interventions of the RHMs reached 370,470 during this period. Mediators and Coordinators cooperate with over 750 doctors and 100 kindergartens and elementary schools.    

Healthy Communities project is a tool for integration of marginalized Roma communities to the society. The project has shown that the biggest health risks in Roma settlements are connected to getting bitten by rodents, cockroaches, bedbugs, spread of smallpox, type A hepatitis, mumps, and lice. All of these are caused by terrible hygiene conditions, low education levels, and limited access to drinking water.   


Richard Koky- Main Expert for Activities in the Field in Healthy Communities project






  • We are building on our long experience in Slovakia and abroad
  • Bringing people together is better than moving them further apart: we have joined our forces and we’re building a consensus
  • Influence and change: not 30, but rather 300 Roma Health Mediators who help all those that need their help
  • We are not looking for people with formal education, but for those who are ready
  • Transparency in selection of project locations and Roma Health Mediators
  • Regular reporting of achieved results based on evaluation of measurable indicators and participation in research projects




Roma Health Mediators (213 people) who:

  • cooperate with doctors
  • help with preventive check-ups
  • help with vaccinations
  • spread awareness about hygiene and healthy habits
  • continue their education


Coordinators (22 people) who:

  • supervise and oversee the work of RHMs and give them instructions  
  • work on the issues in the field with organization’s management
  • are responsible for continuous work of the RHMs in their coordination areas
  • individual coordination areas can be found on this link

Management (5 people):

  • management, monitoring, and evaluation
  • organization of educational trainings


Board of Directors (3 people):

  • President of the Board: Mgr. Ivan Poprocký, members of the Board: MUDr. Monika Palušková, PhD., MBA and Mgr. Ľubomíra Slušná-Franz,
  • approves the budget of the non-profit organization
  • elects and recalls the Director of the non-profit organization
  • approves the legal actions relating to real estate and immovable property

Supervisory Board (3 people):

  • President of the Supervisory Board:  PhDr. Michal Vašečka, PhD., members of the Supervisory Board: Mgr. Barbora Vávrová, Mgr. Edmund Škorvaga,
  • Inspects accounting and other documents
  • Oversees the work of the non-profit organization
  • Notiefies the Board of Directors of detected infringement of legal documents, Articles of Incorporation, or Statute



Number of RHMs: 213.

Number of Coordinators: 22.

Number of project locations: 218.

Number of regions: 4.

Number of cooperating doctors: 750.

Location with the highest number of Roma population: Lunik IX, Košice.

Town with the highest percentage of Roma: Jurské, Kežmarok county (97,6%).

Town with the highest number of Roma inhabitants: Jarovnice (more than 4800), Sabinov county.




This project is being implemented with support of the European Social Fund through the Operation Program: Employment and Social Inclusion.