This paper presents the Czech national pilot project - the first educational course of Romany health and social assistants for community work with the Romany population in excluded communities.Background:
The Romany people are the biggest minority in the Czech Republic. The number is ever increasing because of the migration from South-East Europe. At the same time, the health and social problems of the Romany population are rising, too. To begin to address some of the health problems of this population, a pilot community project entitled Romany Health and Social Assistant was implemented in the years 2002-2004 in Ostrava. Ostrava is the third largest city and has the largest Romany population. Based on the outcomes of this project and as part of the national project SASTIPEN - Reduction of Health Inequalities in the Romany Community, the systematic education of selected Romany health and social assistants was carried out in 2005-2007.Conclusions:
These trained Romany assistants are now working in the regions of the Czech Republic where inhabitants live in large Romany communities. The project evaluation was based on a questionnaire investigation of 170 clients living in Romany communities and on the statements of Romany health assistants. They found positive outcomes in several areas: obtaining information on health, motivation to healthy lifestyle, concrete changes in lifestyle and boosting trust towards doctors. Following the end of the project and its evaluation, an educational course will be accredited and certified, and the education of Romany assistants will be widespread across the whole country.