Education & Training

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

A Meeting Held in Vranje to Discuss Improvement of Access to Social Welfare and Health Protection

On 15 January 2014 a meeting was held in Vranje with representatives of municipal authorities, institutions and civil society. The meeting is the second in a series of meetings organised by Praxis as part of the project Access to Social Welfare and Health Protection for Vulnerable Groups in the South of Serbia - Phase II, implemented by Praxis with the support of the Foundation Caritas Luxembourg.

The aim of the meeting was to strengthen cooperation between the stakeholders in the local community and align the practices of authorities and service providers with regard to access to health care and social protection and other basic rights for vulnerable population, Roma and internally displaced persons, since access to health care and social protection often depends on access to other rights such as the right to permanent residence registration, registration into civil registry books, etc. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Social Welfare Centre, the Vranje Police Administration, the Secretariat for General Administration responsible for administering civil records, pedagogical assistant, trustee for refugees and migrants, and representatives of non-governmental organisations Nexus and Association Bakija Bakić from Vranje, as well as Roma activists.

In addition to the various problems affecting the most vulnerable social groups in Vranje, representatives of the Social Welfare Centre highlighted the difficulties faced by citizens in accessing the right to social assistance given that citizens waited for decisions for a very long time. The problems are a direct consequence of insufficient capacity of and resources at the disposal of the institution. In support of this statement, they presented the information that by mid-2013 only one social worker had performed the work of the recognition of entitlement to social assistance, that three social workers had been working since that time and that the average number of requests annually per one social worker was around 1500, whereas the number of requests for this type of social protection was annually increased by about 2000. The situation is even more serious when it comes to exercising the right to one-off financial assistance since the beneficiaries usually wait longer than two years, which renders the purpose of this assistance totally meaningless.

Since this meeting was not attended by any representative of the Republic Fund for Health Insurance, or health mediators, in the part of the meeting relating to access to health care for vulnerable groups of citizens it was stated that access to this group of rights was often impossible for the most vulnerable persons, and all participants agreed that it was necessary to intensify advocacy efforts to address this systemic problem.

It is worth noting that the participants considered that such meetings were very useful for educating, informing and further sensitising the staff of institutions, in addition to being important for improving mutual cooperation.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action