A Noble Oath, A Higher Calling – Roma Medical Students Prepare to Serve in Europe’s Health Systems

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Designed to address a chronic shortage of qualified Roma medical practitioners/health professionals in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, the RHSP has supported over 527 Roma students (through 1,295 scholarships) pursuing vocational and/or tertiary medical studies through a scholarship package comprising financial, academic and professional support, since its launching in 2008.

From 136 students who enrolled in medical studies in the academic year 2015–2016, 30 students from Bulgaria (8), Macedonia (10), Romania (7) and Serbia (5) – on the basis of their academic performance and active participation in Roma community life – were invited to attend the second RHSP Regional student conference, in Budapest in July 2016.

Over two days, students had the opportunity to listen to and interact with guest speakers, getting acquainted with the research on Roma and health policies at EU level, reviewing the positive outcomes of the community work and the challenges encountered by the Roma Health Mediators in the region, and engage in cross-country information sharing and learning from the RHSP advocacy and mentorship components’ experiences.

The conference also served as a chance to learn new things, as well as be inspired to continue to follow on the path on which they have embarked, to become medical professionals, by hearing stories of success of RHSP Alumni, and participate in a training tailored on developing students’ employability skills.

This scholarship scheme advancing the health and human rights of Roma is a joint initiative of the Roma Health Project of the Open Society Foundation’s Public Health Program, and the Roma Education Fund.