Romania 1998

International staff: 1 National staff: 10 Health and psycho social care for the homeless The "shock therapy" carried out by the coalition government in 1997 did nothing to aid a deteriorating health system suffering from shortages of drugs and equipment, an underpaid medical staff, an abnormally high infant mortality rate and a rise in the incidence of TB and meningitis. In December 1997, MSF handed over a socio-educational support programme for 14 Rom (Gypsy) communities in Transylvania to Wassdas a Rom-Romanian NGO set up by MSF. An extensive evaluation carried out among the 2,600 Roma benefiting from the programme had confirmed a significant overall improvement in the level of social integration, a considerable increase in the number of children attending school, greater use of medical facilities, higher vaccination coverage and growing acceptance and use of contraceptives. MSF produced a guide for social workers, local authorities, NGOs, etc. based on the experience gained in working with this marginalised group. A survey was also produced, in collaboration with Cluj-Napoca university, demonstrating the generally negative way in which the Roma are perceived and highlighting the importance of developing a national policy for them. MSF now focuses on the increasingly large numbers of homeless, particularly migrants from other provinces. A centre, opened in December 1997 under an agreement with the Ministry of Health, provides medical consultations, showers and psycho-social counselling, and also organises food distributions throughout the winter. MSF is active in lobbying national and local authorities and the Romanian people in order to highlight the problems of the homeless.