In April and May, leadership of communities in Balta (Odesa oblast) and Tsarychanka (Dniropetrovsk oblast) arranged Family Health Fairs for their residents. The purpose of the events was to encourage the community members to choose their family doctors.
Each community selected its own Family Health Fair format. In Balta, the Fair took place in the renovated building of the Primary Health Care (PHC) Center. Local authorities have invested their own funds in renovations, equipment and computers. A lot has been done to create services fully focused on the needs of people.
The family doctors of the Balta PHC Center conducted a series of information seminars dedicated to such common diseases as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, bronchial asthma, lung cancer, cervical cancer and breast cancer. In simple, understandable terms, people were told about the family health prevention, hereditary diseases and their prevention, behavior and lifestyle habits, and the services of family doctors which could be received free of charge at the Balta PHC Center facilities. Roman Kolontai, Chief Physician of the PHC Center, described how the PHC Center worked, what health services were available free of charge. The visitors with children were introduced to the children’s master classes where children could enjoy themselves while their parents were talking to family doctors.
“Current changes in the health sector and in the Balta PHC Center in particular provide access to quality health care 24/7. Today, our patients can call and get an appointment with a doctor without wasting their time in queues. We have an office on duty. Lab tests and health services are provided as part of the health reform and in accordance with the order of the Ministry of Health”, – says Stanislav Chornyi, Head of the Health Unit of the Balta City Council. “Doctors of the PHC Center use the medical information system which helps them work faster. We try to disseminate the information about doctors and free PHC Center services among patients. At the Fair, our citizens had the opportunity to talk to almost every doctor and obtain valuable information about their own health. ”
At the Fair, every visitor who had not yet signed a declaration with a family doctor had been given such a chance. By the beginning of the Fair, 3,600 patients from the Balta community have already chosen their family doctor and signed a declaration with him/her. During the Fair, over 130 declarations were signed. The youngest patient who signed the declaration was 1.5 weeks old, the oldest – 95 years old.
The leadership of the Tsarychanka community preferred the format of a street holiday in the park zone. At the Fair, people talked to family doctors in the Family Health Zone, they were screened in the Diagnosis Zone, offered sweets in the Coffee Zone, while kids had fun in the Kids’ Zone. The visitors to the Fair received answers to all questions about choosing a family doctor and signing declaration with him/her. Family doctors of the Tsarychanka PHC Center consider prevention and early diagnosis of the diseases to be their top priority. Therefore, at the Family Health Fair, they focused on prevention of cardiovascular, hypertensive, allergic diseases, early detection of cancer, diabetes mellitus, osteochondrosis, and thyroid diseases when talking to the community members. Pediatricians of the Tsarychanka PHC Center paid special attention to the vaccination and complementary food for babies “without semolina and borshch”.
“This is the first time that we have such an event with the involvement of family doctors,” says Hennadii Sumskyi, Head of the Tsarychanka Amalgamated Community. “But we hope that Family Health Fairs will become a good tradition and our inhabitants will be more aware of disease prevention and, as a result, healthier.” By the beginning of the Fair, 1,500 declarations have been signed with the doctors of the Tsarychanka PHC Center. As of today, nine family doctors, one pediatrician and one GP have been employed by the PHC Center.
The Family Health Fairs were supported by the Health Reform Support component of the USAID HIV Reform in Action (HIVRiA) Project. “The success of the health reform and improvement of health services for the population is the result of a comprehensive approach by local authorities. From the organization of work under new rules to the establishment of communication with patients. We are always ready to help, but without the will and desire of the local community to change for the better it would be impossible. Therefore, we highly appreciate and truly admire the leadership of the Balta and Tsarychanka communities which are doing a lot in this area. The Family Health Fair is a vivid example of openness and professional communication between family doctors and patients, ” emphasized Nata Avaliani, HIVRiA Project Chief of Party.