In their lived experience, Macedonia’s Roma experience many kinds of discrimination, including when they seek medical help. Doctors, nurses and other medical staff may speak rudely to them and may provide explanations of their health condition as well as the treatment in language the Roma cannot understand. In short, the Roma are sometimes given short shrift in medical facilities. On the other hand, doctors and other medical staff complain that the Roma are not disciplined when they visit medical facilities, that they arrive in large disruptive groups, that they do not have/bring proper documents, and that they are unhygienic, among other things.
Open Society Foundation works in the area of Roma inclusion in several countries including Macedonia. The foundation provided a grant to a faculty-doctoral student team in the School to work on the initial phases of a project that had the goal of changing the narrative about the Roma among the medical staff. The team proposed formative research to assess the current situation in a couple of municipalities, followed by a workshop for activist organizations working on behalf of the Roma to build their capacity and to seek their input in the next steps of developing an intervention.
Both the formative research and the workshop are now complete. Apart from making presentations on social change theory and practice, the team also shared the design and results of the formative research in the workshop. The workshop ended with a call by OSF for proposals from the activist organizations to conduct projects based on the team’s research results or on their own research with the ultimate goal of conceiving, designing and implementing interventions to change the narratives about the Roma in the medical establishment.