Koepel van de Roemeniëwerkingen in Vlaanderen
Geel, August 18th, 2014
To whom it may concern,
ADR-Vlaanderen, an accredited socio-cultural organization in Flanders, was founded in 1989. The founding of this organization was part of a European campaign to protect the Romanian villages that would be destroyed according to the systemization plans of former dictator Ceaucescu. The campaign started in Brussels as an initiative of Pax Christi and the League for human rights. ADR-Vlaanderen is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary and still operates as the umbrella organization for some 100 different ADR groups in Flanders. In the period following upon the revolution in 1989, ADR was the focal point for the organization of humanitarian aid to Romania. The humanitarian action evolved quickly after images appeared in the news about the horrible life conditions of the people. After several years, humanitarian aid evolved towards structural support, aiming to improve the living conditions of local communities. Hereupon, local volunteers became involved in community development, exchange of knowledge about education, healthcare, local government, etc.
Healthcare as a starting point for sustainable cooperation and development
In recent years, healthcare became the focal point of many collaborations between Flemish and Romanian partners. This mainly due to the privatization of health care in 1996-1997, where through primary healthcare had disappeared in the rural areas. Since then, about 400 hospitals closed and many care providers were faced with limited means of survival. Only 3.6% of the GDP of Romania is spent on health care (to compare, the EU average is 8% of the GDP). Discussions about a new legislation on primary healthcare have been ongoing for years now. Though, there seems to be no progress on the ground. ADR-Vlaanderen and The Open Network for Community Development (TON, Romanian foundation, founded in 2012 by ADR-Vlaanderen) published a Memorandum on Romanian Health at end of 2012 'which was sent to all political parties and the media in Romania. In this Memorandum, both organizations presented their views on the general state of health care in Romania.
The healthcare situation anno 2014
50% of the Romanian population lives in rural areas. Moreover, it is just in the countryside that most people are deprived of basic health care. Romania has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the EU and the life expectancy at birth is at the lowest level, when compared with other EU countries (Caritas Crisis monitoring report 2014). Health prevention and health education are virtually non-existent.
ADR-Vlaanderen and TON developed "local health committees' (CLS), where key figures in a community become advocates for the healthcare situation of the community. Also "community health centers" (ADAM) were developed in which a multidisciplinary health center is leaded by locals through mutual decision making and stake holding. This project has been repeatedly praised as being ‘real social innovation’. The pilot center in Slatina-Timis was praised in the "International Journal of Integrated Care". This project is also published on the website of BENISI. BENISI stands for "Building a European Network of Incubators for Social Innovation". The project will also be added to a catalog of Social Innovation projects within Europe.
Over the past years we have had several contacts at ministerial level in Romania. These were mainly driven by Philippe Beke, the Belgian ambassador in Romania who supports our projects as godfather of the Romanian Foundation TON. Through this collaboration, Belgian companies in Romania are also informed about our activities and collaboration across social and business work is promoted.
Since May 2014, Cristina Vladu is active within TON as an expert on healthcare. She was the former counselor of the Minister of Health and she is currently working on a local healthcare strategy, relying on evidence-based research. She will also develop projects within a European framework to expand and to continue the Flemish-Belgian cooperation.
In the future, ADR-Vlaanderen and TON would like to intensify the level of professionalism of their work. For this reason, ADR-Vlaanderen established a partnership with HICT (Bruges, Belgium), to set up a master plan on future collaboration. The first part of this plan will focus on healthcare because of our best practices in this domain. Later on, other departments on which TON and ADR-Vlaanderen are working, will be subject to such a process. These are the other departments: social movements including youth movement AGLT (second largest youth movement in Romania), women's and men's associations, local government, sustainable and social tourism, agriculture, safety including a voluntary fire department, education and training.
With this letter and presentation of 25 years of successful collaboration, we are trying to collect the necessary funds to support the development of this master plan. After the development of this master plan, institutions and partners will be contact to implement it and to further develop our efforts for the coming years.
Thank you for your attention and cooperation,
On behalf of ADR-Vlaanderen,
You can download this letter here.