A medical project from the IOM and “Memorial”
Free medical assistance for elderly Roma living in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
In July 2003, the voluntary organisation “Memorial” started a programme to provide medical assistance free of charge to elderly people of Roma origin.
The project is being implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), whose task it is to allocate funds awarded by Swiss banks to representatives of people who suffered in the Holocaust
Roma, like Jews, were destroyed by the Nazis on the basis of race – in other words, the Roma were considered by them to be an “inferior race”. Approximately 500,000 Roma were killed in Europe. In the North-West of Russia there are resident Roma who suffered directly from Nazism: as a rule they were sent as children to fascist camps. However, the number of people who suffered indirectly from fascism is much greater, and, in an attempt to restore some kind of justice, it was decided in court that these people should be given assistance.
So who can get free medical assistance on the IOM programme? Russian citizens of Roma origin who were born before 9 May 1945, and who live and are registered in St. Petersburg or the Leningrad region. This year, 250 people fall into that category.
What do I need to do to get free medical assistance on the IOM programme? You need to register for an individual taxpayer number at your local tax office. It is free to register for this – but you will need to present your passport. If elderly Roma find it difficult to obtain an individual taxpayer number themselves, then employees of “Memorial” can visit the homes of those who are entitled to medical assistance, photocopy their passports, obtain individual taxpayer numbers and bring them to the person entitled to medical assistance.
What kind of medical assistance can I get on the IOM programme?In the first stage, the elderly Roma are visited at home by specialist doctors in a medical bus, equipped with the necessary technology for carrying out examinations. They then examine the patient, and perform the necessary analyses. In the second stage of the programme, the elderly Roma receive free medication according to the recommendations of the doctors and – if necessary – spectacles and dentures. In the third stage, the doctors visit once more in the special bus and perform a secondary examination, in order to assess how successful the treatment has been.
Elderly Roma living in the Krasnoselskii District of Saint Petersburg have already received medical assistance (two stages of the programme have already been completed), while the Gatchina and Tosnenskii Districts of Leningrad region are next in line. The plan is that other districts in our region will also be included, and that the project’s range will be extended to the Pskov region. The programme is headed by Vladimir Eduardovich Schnitke, and coordinated by Valentina Grigorevna Pavlichenko.