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In 2016, the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) collaborated with the Ministry of Health, Dartmouth College and the University of Prishtina to conduct the first comprehensive research on women’s and men’s access to quality healthcare in Kosovo. A group of young, motivated professionals and students from Kosovo, USA, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark carried out the research.
The research involved a household survey of 1,309 women and men Kosovars; and interviews with 110 healthcare practitioners and key actors, among other methods. The resulting report, Access to Healthcare in Kosovo, assesses the extent to which Kosovars utilize public and private healthcare services; face financial, geographic, ethnic, cultural and/or knowledge barriers in accessing healthcare; and are aware of their rights as patients. Quality of care is examined in terms of patient-provider relationships, perception of personnel quality and availability of medical services.
Overall, 81% of Kosovars considered their health status to be good or very good, though women assessed their health status slightly worse than men did; 23% reported a limitation in daily life due to health reasons. Women and men tended to face similar barriers in accessing healthcare, though women seemingly had more sociocultural barriers than men. Rural women faced more financial, cultural and patient-provider relationship barriers in accessing healthcare than men or urban women. Bosnian and Turkish women tended to face more barriers than men of the same ethnicities, and significantly more barriers than Albanian women and men. Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian and Gorani women and men had among the most geographic, financial and cultural barriers to accessing healthcare.
A recurring theme among healthcare workers was that social stigma prevents both women and men from utilizing mental health services. Insufficient confidentiality may be a barrier precluding Kosovars from seeking healthcare services, particularly related to mental health.
The report was publically launched on 2 February in an event attended by Dr. Imet Rrahmani, Minister of Health; Andrew Russell, United Nations Development Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative; Dr. Visare Mujko-Nimani, Programme Specialist, Officer in Charge, United Nations Population Fund; and Dr. Sami Uka, National Professional Officer, World Health Organization. Members of parliament, municipal assemblies, civil society organizations and other officials also attended.
The survey collected data on several different topics related to health and access to healthcare, some of which were not elaborated in the report. However, a brief section was dedicated to health and the environment.
“We do not like going to so many funerals here,” Andrew Russell noted during the launching event. As a foreigner living temporarily in Kosovo, “it strikes us how many of our colleagues die … far too young and far too easily,” he said. The environment in Kosovo is “actually killing us; Kosovo A, Kosovo B, Kosovo C, these cars and how we heat our homes, all contribute to this,” he said.
The report concludes with recommendations for further research, awareness-raising and policy. It is available at: Link. In addition to substantial volunteer contributions, the research and report printing costs received support from UNDP, UN Volunteers, UNFPA, WHO, Dartmouth College and KWN’s own reserve funding.
KWN is a network that advocates on behalf of Kosovar women, at local, regional and international levels. It has 114 member organizations, including women’s groups of all ethnicities throughout Kosovo. KWN has a Strategic Plan for 2015-2018 with five programs: Building the Capacity of KWN, Women in Politics and Decision-making, Women’s Health, Gender-based Violence and Women’s Economic Empowerment.
contributed by the Kosovo Women’s Network.
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