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The Association National Roma Centrum (NRC) from Kumanovo, together with the partner organizations, the Association for Development and Promotion of the Roma Community Romano Chachipe (Skopje), IRIZ – Initiative for Development and Inclusion of Communities (Skopje), Association for Legal Education and Transparency P.E.T. STATION (Prilep), the Center for Contemporary Arts from Skopje and the Foundation Open Society Macedonia, today (28 December 2020) in Kumanovo realized a creative artistic action for better access to gynecological services by pregnant women.

The action took place on the square “New Yugoslavia” – Kumanovo, and the goal was to actualize the problems in the public and send a message to the authorities to provide better access to pregnant women for gynecological services, because 74% of Roma women pay for free examinations during pregnancy, although all pregnant women and women in labor are entitled to free health care.

The performance on the square consisted of strollers that were donated to socially disadvantaged families, i.e. pregnant women and mothers. The designed messages that were placed together with the baby strollers are based on everyday events, personal experiences, life stories conveyed through written messages emphasizing the problems faced by pregnant women in accessing gynecological services.

Passers-by and other actors had the opportunity to read the messages and see directly what problems pregnant women face, especially with the payment of free examinations during pregnancy, abuse of free echo examination (300 denars), microbiological swabs (300 denars) and the payment for the mother record (500 denars), a package for a pregnant woman that costs 1,100 denars.

The Constitution guarantees universal access to health care for all citizens, and the Law on Health Care as well as the Law on Health Insurance ensure equality in access to health care institutions while respecting the right to equality of all citizens. But despite a number of laws, bylaws and programs adopted by the Ministry of Health, citizens daily in exercising their rights guaranteed by law, encounter problems because the laws are insufficiently precise – ambiguous and applied differently in practice by institutions that implement them.

Although the measures in the Programs provide free gynecological examinations of pregnant women, these examinations are charged by gynecologists. Confirmation of this is the estimates of the World Health Organization, which notes that the cause of death is due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth, that 94% of women who lost their lives come from countries with low economic development.

The percentage of non-use of free gynecological examinations of pregnant women is high, reaching up to 74%, and we have 90% of non-use of free laboratory examinations for pregnant women during pregnancy. There is also a tendency for unused free folic acid for every pregnant woman to reach up to 95%.

* The action is part of the training for creative activism of Roma organizations conducted by the Foundation Open Society Macedonia. The training and the creation and implementation of the action are attended by representatives of our Association National Roma Centrum (Kumanovo); Association for Development and Promotion of the Roma Community Romano Chachipe (Skopje); IRIZ – Initiative for Development and Inclusion of Communities (Skopje) and Association for Legal Education and Transparency STATION P.E.T. (Prilep).