The Platform for Support Health of Disadvantaged Groups (Platform) is an association of legal entities. The Platform aims to protect and promote the health of disadvantaged groups of people and excluded communities. The platform implements educational, research and promotional activities aimed at creating a comprehensive model of health promotion for disadvantaged groups and developing health mediation in Slovakia. In order to achieve its goals, it cooperates with Slovak and foreign physical and legal entities, institutions with a similar focus and takes advantage of vocational practical experience at European level. It is a member of the European Public Health Alliance.
The Platform was initiated in 2012 by the Association for Culture, Education and Communication (ACEC), which has been involved in health education and mediation in Roma settlements since 2002. The Platform brings together non-governmental, governmental and private sector actors dealing with health disadvantaged groups in Slovakia. From October 2013, the Platform has implemented nationwide project the Healthy Community Project. The Healthy Community Project is a proven and functional model of Health Mediation implementation in marginalized communities through Health Mediation Assistants. Assistants are selected directly from target communities and specifically trained. They carry out many activities in the area of health and health care. In the course of their work, under the guidance of Coordinators, they cooperate with many experts and practitioners (first contact doctors, mayors, pedagogical staff, field social workers, employees of regional offices of the Ministry of the Interior). In addition to regular educational activities to provide preventive programs (compulsory vaccination, preventive screening, counseling for mothers), they are especially involved in family education aimed at preventing infectious and parasitic diseases, prevention of alcoholism and substance abuse, consolidation of eating habits and many other hygiene improvement activities and environmental health.
In 144 localities of Slovakia there were 144 HM Assistants and 16 HM Coordinators. The project was implemented in cooperation with the Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Government for Roma Communities and was financed from the state budget with the support of several ministries – the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and the Family of the Slovak Republic and the Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic. The first model of system health care for disadvantaged groups lasted until September 30, 2014. Project activities had a direct positive impact on more than 150,000 inhabitants. In many villages, vaccination is 100%. In many municipalities, established and functional cooperation with municipalities and assistants have initiated many changes to improve the overall living situation of settlement populations from building up basic infrastructure, addressing the availability of drinking water, sewerage, waste disposal and regular cleaning of the settlement environment. Over a period of one year, Health Mediation Assistants performed a total of 93 108 interventions in favor of 779,193 clients, invitations to preventive examinations were 92,690 and vaccinations 45,775, with the most interventions being carried out in Prešov, Košice and Vranov district and most of the clients helped in Prešov, Košice and Gelnica district.
Based on the results of the project implementation, the central government body – Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic showed active interest in this project. On October 1, 2014, Platform and Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic subsequently established a joint non-profit organization Healthy Community n.o. The Healthy Community Nonprofit Organization has emerged as a model of a solution that has effectively and actively linked several organizations to achieve a common goal of improving the health of disadvantaged groups and social innovation in accessing the area. The merger of the central government body, as the competent authority and the non-governmental organization, which has long-established know-how in the field, was one of the unique and innovative elements of the Healthy Community non-profit organization.
The nonprofit organization has provided generally beneficial services in the field of creation and protection of the environment and health protection of the population in order to increase the knowledge level, skills and enlightenment of the population. The main objective of the non-profit organization was to systematize the program of health education in disadvantaged communities throughout the Slovak Republic, to promote the use of human resources directly from the environment of segregated settlements and to increase their employment through the implementation of the National Healthy Community Project. The national project, implemented between October 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016, directly continued with the Platform´s proven implemented model of the project built on more than 10 years of ACEC experience.
Implementation of the Healthy Community National Project from January 1, 2017 was undertaken by the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic through the Healthy Regions State Contribution Fund, which created a space for the implementation of a comprehensive, long-term solution of the situation of disadvantaged groups in the area of health at national level. Within the Supervisory Body, Representative of the Platform is elected.