Round table discussion on increasing access to cervical cancer screening among Roma women in Serbia


(From left) Dr Bosiljka Djikanovic, Associate Professor from Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade; Dr Aleksandar Bojovic, WHO Country Office in Serbia; Dr Ference Vicko, State Secretary at the Ministry of Health; and Dr Bojana Milosevic, National Coordinator of the early detection of cervical cancer programme took part in round table discussions on 24 September 2014.

A round table discussion on strengthening national capacity and intersectorial collaboration for achieving equity in national strategies, programmes and activities for health, using the example of the national programme for the early detection of cervical cancer was held in Belgrade, on 24 September 2014.  Organized by the WHO Country Office in Serbia, in collaboration with the National Health Authorities of the Republic of Serbia, the discussion took place at the Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut Institute of Public Health of Serbia. 

At the meeting, results of the country case study on reorienting the national programme for screening of cervical cancer in Serbia towards greater health equity, with an explicit but not exclusive focus on Roma population, commissioned by WHO/Europe, were presented and discussed among relevant stakeholders at national level. The roundtable included representatives of health institutions, relevant ministries, government offices, representatives of Roma organizations and other civil society organizations, as well as representatives of United Nations agencies in Serbia and other organizations, agencies, initiatives and projects. 

Participants discussed opportunities for increasing access to this programme by women in all population groups, especially those facing particular social and economic challenges, such as Roma women. This round table aimed to improve understanding of the barriers that Roma women face in accessing healthcare and particularly the screening programme, to respond adequately to these barriers, and to plan future activities and collaboration with potential donors.

This activity was conducted as part of the biannual collaboration agreement between the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia and WHO, and as a follow-up activity to the WHO multi-country training on reorienting strategies, programmes and activities on Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 for greater health equity, with an explicit but not exclusive focus on the Roma population.