Press Conference: Healthy Communities- A story of successful project transformation

Photo: Matus Lago


Bratislava, December 10, 2015

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES- A story of successful project transformation


The press conference Healthy Communities- A story of successful project transformation was lead by the representatives of the Healthy Communities NPO- Director Mgr. Michal Kubo and Expert for Activities in the Field Mgr. Richard Koky. The founding members of the organization were represented by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic- MUDr. Mario Mikloši and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Work, Social Affairs, and Family of the Slovak Republic and member of the Steering Committee of the Platform for Support of Health of Disadvantaged Groups (PSHDG) Mgr. Branislav Ondruš. Mgr. Andrej Belák, expert on Roma health of the Medical Department of the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice, also accepted our invitation and described our project as “the most developed and the most promising initiative of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe”. 23 Coordinators of Roma Health Mediator were represented by their colleague, Mgr. Lenka Bužová.

MUDr. Monika Palušková, member of the Board of Directors of Healthy Communities NPO presented the view of the Society of General Practitioners in Slovakia saying “We see the incredible contribution of this project in a fact that we don’t have to communicate with every single patient separately. Roma Health Mediators and their Coordinators help doctors with organizing prevention activities, early diagnostics and treatment. By doing this they don’t only improve the health of the patients in the community, but also improve the overall epidemiological situation in majority population.”

National Project Healthy Communities is building on over 10 years of experience of multiple non-governmental, government and private bodies and both national and international initiatives focusing on activities in the field of health of disadvantaged communities- as introduced in the beginning by Healthy Communities’ Director, Michal Kubo. He added that “on the basis of achieved results we believe that Slovakia will be able to stabilize a systemic, high-quality, professionally operated, sustainable program with positive results which could be an example for other initiatives in different areas.” He also mentioned an ambition of the project to “become a leader among the EU Member States in the area of health of disadvantaged groups – marginalized Roma communities – and be an inspiration for other countries.”

Project was initiated by non-governmental organization Association for Culture, Education and Communication in 2003. In 2012, ACEC initiated establishment of another organization- association of legal entities Platform for Support of Health of Disadvantaged Groups (PSHDG), through which the project spread from the original 68 locations to 108 locations throughout Slovakia. Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic took over the main responsibility for the project in 2014 and together with Platform PSHDG established a non-profit organization Healthy Communities NPO and together they are realizing the National Project Healthy Communities. “I appreciate that this project helps to improve the quality of public health in disadvantaged communities. The key is to strengthen their interest and responsibility for their own health and support their awareness about healthcare and healthy lifestyle,” said Mario Mikloši, State Secretary of the Ministry of Health.

 At present, the project is being carried out in 239 locations mainly in central and eastern Slovakia. There are 257 project employees (234 Roma Health Mediators and 23 Coordinators) working directly in the field who regularly cooperate with more than 750 doctors and over 100 elementary schools and kindergartens. “In some areas we managed to completely stop spreading of the infectious diseases right at the beginning thanks to cooperation with doctors and state health organizations’ personnel,” coordinator Lenka Bužová said on topic of good cooperation.  

National Project Healthy Communities is carried out with a goal to find a systemic and sustainable solution to the alarming state of health and social conditions of the disadvantaged groups in Slovakia. Its main task is the fulfillment of the global objective of the most complex government strategic material with a purpose of improving the living situation of excluded Roma in Slovakia in the field of health (Strategy for the integration of Roma 2020), which is to promote access to health care and public health, including preventive healthcare and health education and reduce the gap in health status between the Roma and the majority population.

Project is realized through the Roma Health Mediators and their Coordinators who in the past 12 months helped 67,639 clients in the area where the Roma population is expected to be almost 250,000.

Roma Health Mediators significantly contributed to improvement in communication and cooperation between the inhabitants of marginalized Roma communities and physicians, nurses and midwives. Total number of interventions in the field has exceeded 370,470. It has included first aid, education about hygiene and health habits and increasing responsibility for their own health, assistance and advice to new mothers. Other field activities include identification of risk factors and needs related to health threats, and cooperation in the exchange of information and experience with other helping professions and institutions.

National Project Healthy Communities is financed from the Operational Programme Employment and Social Inclusion from the programming period 2007 - 2013 with the current allocation 2 510 681,12 € from authorized 3 289 257,25 €. 86% of all expenditures consists of salaries and staff costs, 6% travel and equipment, and 5% education.

Another 12 800 695,32 € was allocated for the continuation of the National Project in the next 36 months of the new programming period 2014 - 2020 from the Operational Programme Human Resources. The project envisages covering 258 sites with 299 employees in the field. "Regular meetings of the members of PSHDG Platform and cooperating entities continue with efforts at systematization of the nationwide health awareness project Healthy Communities and its stabilization as a National Project for the period 2014 - 2020", remarked Branislav Ondruš.

In 2016, the national project will be launched also in Bratislava region with the intention to employ seven people in seven locations by the end of 2022 with a total budget of 643 228,26€.

The project is unique in Slovak and European context because of its revised repeated testing and refinement of the methodology, which reflects the latest knowledge and approach to marginalized groups and takes into account the specifics of the Slovak Republic. The positive characteristics of the project stand out especially compared to institutionalized programs in Bulgaria and Romania, countries with a similar socio-economic conditions and situation. 

It has been proven to be beneficial not to require high educational attainment of the candidates for the position of RHM and also not prefer the female candidates, as in Romania. "In Slovakia, anyone who fulfills strict conditions and who is highly motivated can become a Roma Health Mediator - regardless of his/her education or gender. RHMs are able to communicate with the residents of the settlements in their mother tongue; they know the community and relationships, which significantly contributes to the successful implementation of the project," said Richard Koky. He added that “human resources in the field are the most important component a key tool. Targeted employment, education, personal and professional development of marginalized Roma communities’ population is one of the specific objectives of the project."

The project sensitively reflects approach and results of the field projects of social and community workers. It has set up an innovative system of management and control of the RHMs and their coordinators on the national level. Unified management with a simple transparent and effective organizational structure ensures an effective monitoring system, regular evaluation and fast implementation of improvements. Education of RHMs runs on the basis of the methodology which was elaborated in detail and proven by experience. It was in place for over 10 years together with system of educational activities based on real field specific requirements (accreditation of Ministry of Education, 2004, 2007). 

Healthy Communities project has been presented many times at international conferences and events (World Conference of Physicians - WONCA Lisbon in 2014, Istanbul 2015; 6th Annual Conference of European Public Health Alliance, Brussels 2015, meeting of the European Commission and representatives of civil society, international organizations and academic institutions organized by DG JUSTICE, Brussels, 2015) and in February 2015, WHO published a case study on the project in its proceedings.



Presentation (in Slovak)

Logos: Healthy Communities NPO Platform for Support of Health of Disadvantaged GroupsOP Employment and Social InclusionEuropean Social Fund Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic

Annual Report (in Slovak)



Ľuboslava Riapošová

PR manažérka




Magdaléna Rothová

Executive Secretary of PSHDG

0918 632 003