Improving Health for Roma Children_"together for a better health, for us, by us"

Improving Health for Roma Children_"together for a better health, for us, by us"

Brentford (london), Royaume Univarious Roma settlements in CEE, Slovakie
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We launched an intensive collaboration with four distinct and passionate NGOs from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia in order to accelerate learning and achieve more together than alone to improve the health of those living in socially excluded and isolated Roma communities, especially the children.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Most of us live in countries where Roma people make up to 10% of the population. Roughly half of the Roma people live in settlements which are often geographically isolated and characterized by a lack of infrastructure, hygienic amenities, and social, educational and health services. Consequently, employment rates, educational attainment, and health literacy are especially low in Roma settlements. This leads to outbreaks of dangerous but perfectly preventable infectious diseases. Virtually all local, regional and national governments as well as the European and global institutions are confronted with prejudices and many are finding it difficult to structure support that really reaches the communities and improves the lives of Roma minorities and children.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We belief change needs to come from inside communities. GSK has launched a three-year European Community Partnerships programme: “Together for a better health - for us, by us”. This programme aims to improve the health of those living in socially excluded and isolated Roma communities, especially the children. With this project we support four distinct and passionate NGOs from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia in order to accelerate learning and achieve more together than alone. We are working together in a very structured way to Improve the life of Roma Children, Better support and embed the role of Roma Health Mediators in society and within Roma communities, Ensure that Roma Health Mediators are acknowledged and embedded in the legal frameworks and Speed up sustainable access to available national and European funds. We belief it will attract the attention of National & European Government Organisations, NGOs and private companies in terms of Roma health policies and funding
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The project is now 9 months underway. We agreed a structure and communication: Rotating NGOs will chair the project supported by GSK project manager. We have 1 face to face meeting each year and 4 video conferences . These are aimed at sharing questions, solutions, achievements and best practices on the work with the Roma Health Mediators and Roma communities and on embedding and legalisation of the role of the Health Mediators. In 2013 we will include funding, ahead of the EU structural fund submissions. The NGOs provide a simple and aligned progress report each quarter and one financial report yearly. GSK colleagues support the local NGOs in the project locally and facilitate communication and contacts. The project has been shared with the main national and European NGO's and governmental stakeholders.The most recent meeting was attended by a major European NGO as an observer. A concrete example of success; Based upon the shared experiences from the one NGO, another NGO Initiated the establishment of a "National Platform to support the health of disadvantaged minorities", representing all stakeholders. They organised a series of round tables. The platform achieved an agreement with the various ministries involved and the Government Representative of Roma Communities on the legalisation of programs and position of Roma Health Mediators, Health Coordinators and the new position of National Coordinator in that member state , as well as the Government adoption and funding of the role of Roma Health Mediators.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Peers are all individuals, Governments, NGOs and for profit organisations, nationally and in Europe that are able and willing to address health inequalities in Roma and particularly children. We do not anticipate any major challenges or competition– instead we see an opportunity ( and first proof), for partnership with Pan-European NGOs and organisations to draw upon different strengths and expertise to accelerate success on all levels, A perceived risk is that some governments and pan-European organisations may not yet fully understand the rational for pharmaceutical industries involvement. By operating our business in a values-based manner and by increasing transparency of all of our activities, we hope this perceived risk will be minimal. We will engage in an open dialogue

Founding Story

In 2010 I visited a number of Roma settlements in eastern Slovakia. I wanted to learn and understand the societal discourse, even discrimination of Roma. I found the living conditions comparable to what I saw in the slums of Nairobi. I knew about outbreaks of diseases that are preventable.I learned about the prominent and deep issues within the Roma communities, the difficulties to access proper healthcare. I learned about the important role of Health Mediators, Roma people that support health improvement from within their community, and their successes. I recognised the crucial roles of NGOs employing and supporting the Health Mediators. I learned about bureaucracy and transparency issues in legalising the role of the Health Mediators and funding. I saw that some settlements actually were able to increase their standards of living and health, for example, by coordinated vaccination awareness campaigns. I promised a Roma gentleman in a settlement that I would come back.
About You
About You
First Name


Tell us about yourself/your team.

We are a team of 4 non-government organisations (NGOs) and employees of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Belgium and the UK, passionate about improving the health of Roma children in Europe.
I am a father of an 11 year old son. I work for GlaxoSmithKline for 19 years now. I love travelling and seeing the world, meeting and learning from other people and other cultures. I have lived and worked in, the Netherlands, Indonesia, the UK, Slovakia and now in Belgium.
Our Project is initiated and funded from the GSK European Community Partnerships Programme.

What makes you an intrapreneur? What are the skills, capabilities, and personality traits that make you an intrapreneur?

Passionate to address inequalities, especially towards children not having the chance to grow up in good health and appreciate good education. A pragmatic problem solving and solution oriented can –do attitude. A healthy aversion towards (corporate) bureaucracy. Proven ability to make things happen. Able to see the big picture and future needs and linking it to the Corporate Strategy. Strong internal GSK network and growing external network In Brussels and Central Europe at sufficient level to raise awareness and gain support. Natural and inclusive leadership/moderating skills to align different (professional) stakeholders and individuals towards a common goal

About Your Organization
Company Country

, Brentford (london)

Primary country where this project is creating social impact

, PR, various Roma settlements in CEE

Additional countries or regions

Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary


Health Care

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Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Established (past the previous stages and has demonstrated success)

The Solution: Why is this solution innovative for your company and industry?

First project of its kind, aiming at accelerating goals by the mutual intensive collaboration and learning of Roma NGOs in different member states, the Roma community, Governments and GSK. It will raise the awareness and potentially strategic approach towards the health of 5-10 million Roma people in Settlements. It will support new Roma policies at the EU level new partnerships and in time the Roma people will gain a better health, including access to medicines and vaccines

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Within the first nine months of the project: 87 new Health Mediators have been trained, 117 communities have been reached and 149 700 children have benefitted either directly or indirectly. Approximately 70% of those who benefitted are children. The mutual learnings and best practice sharing between the NGOs and with GSK have led to the exchange of educational materials, tracking and improving Health Mediator activities, broader acceptance in general towards the Health Mediators and the role of medical society, including proposed legal changes. The Project has attracted attention and even support from respected international Institutions and professionals that are willing to help and who will bring learnings from the project into European Roma Policy making and insights on European procedures to this project. The project is already being extended in various regions in the four countries and can be scaled up even further

What is your projected impact over the next 1 to 3 years?

We expect to reach more than 480 000 Roma people by the end of the three year project term. The primary focus being increasing access to healthcare and health infrastructure. The project aims to attract other sources of funding so that it is more self-sustaining. The GSK funds and support at the inception of the project are meant to provide a kick start to take the collaboration off the ground. We will work in partnership on building a strong international platform that will continuously work in the field of Roma health literacy and enhance status of the community. Grow and extend a stable network of Health mediators in the 4 countries and beyond , to be able to spread their knowledge and best practices outside of the current scope.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

We have identified two main risks: 1. Both the NGOs as well as GSK employees are very busy delivering the core of their daily work. As such there is a risk that important learnings and insights from this project will not be captured and leveraged sufficiently to European stakeholders and other NGOs.
2.The other risk is that we will not be effective enough to learn about and to submit for European Funding 2014-2018. In order to mitigate these risks: We are currently applying for a full time Project and Communication Manager under GSK’s PULSE VOLUNTEER project. We are also actively engaging other stakeholders in our meetings and communications to ensure that they can add and take away learning’s’ directly into informing European Policy development and improving access to funding.

What is the benefit or value you're creating for your business?

GSK will have the opportunity to demonstrate our open and collaborative way of working by working in genuine partnership with all national and EU stakeholders to ensure the change in Roma communities is sustainable. It serves as an example of how we bring our philosophy of ‘health for all’ to life. In time the significant community of Roma people will gain access to better quality of health (including access to our vaccines, medicines and consumer health care products) and better quality of life overall as well as an uplift in their social status.

How are you leveraging internal resources (funds, time, knowledge, etc.) to support this initiative?

We are providing a grant of €500.000 over a period of 3 years to support the NGOs for the direct benefit of the work of existing Health Mediators and projects and to increase the number of Roma Health Mediators and education. We provide a part-time project manager who works in close collaboration with the NGO that chairs the project. We are finding synergies with other GSK programs, GSK Colleagues are working in teams with the local NGOs and support communication and contacts with medical and governmental stakeholders and provide communication infrastructure and in kind materials. Our European Government affairs department in Brussels leverages the project and needs of NGO's towards EU and global institutes and our HQ communication department supports in/external awareness

Expand on your answer, explaining the long-term funding and support plan.

GSK will support the project for a defined period of three years. Support is skills-based and financial. The initial funding from GSK should help to kick start the project, create and embed ways of working and attract other sources of funding. The aim is for the programme is to be self-sufficient and therefore able to operate independently of GSK funding. One of the aims is to achieve legal acknowledgement and broad government adaption and funding towards the NGOs and towards Health Mediators as a recognised job.We, as a collective, should gain the skills to successfully apply for the European Structural Funds 2014-2018. Overall the base for an extended network of European NGOs and the learnings about how to collaborate and benefit from each other will be established

Tell us about your partnerships across your company and externally that are key to your project's success.

As mentioned before, the project is supported by a variety of professional disciplines from within GSK. Learnings and materials from other GSK Community Partnership Programmes from all over the world are brought into this project and vice verse.
National Governments and National and international NGOs and organisations have indicated their interest and support us in various ways. We are aiming to embed this support into the sustainability of the programme

What internal support have you gotten for your project? What kind of push-back have you received?

Full internal support including communications. The project will be featured in the 2012 Corporate Responsibility report, is featured on the internal web page and is featured on Initially the reputational impact of this project on GSK was considered – primarily since awareness of the Roma community is low within the company. It was decided rather that the project would be the responsible course of action given our position as a healthcare company