KOSOVO: Service and care for excluded communities
Even prior to the war of 1998-1999, Kosovo has been a region plagued by health crises and human rights violations. After Kosovo was stripped of its autonomy in 1989, repression of the ethnic Albanian majority intensified and many Kosovar Albanians were unwelcome or unsafe in Serb healthcare facilities. The dissolution of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s and the resulting wars and displacement exacerbated health crises, devastating the quality of health care in Kosovo. Following the war of 1998-99, the Serb and Roma minority populations were commonly excluded from access to equitable health care. And as is often the case, discrimination and marginalization has encompassed not only ethnic minorities, but women and children as well.
A unique, long-term involvement in a volatile region
Since starting work in Kosovo in 1992, Doctors of the World – USA (DOW) established a unique understanding of this volatile area. Our work before, during, and after the war in Kosovo has addressed critical gaps in health care with a particular focus on marginalized groups such as women, children, and minorities.
Comprehensive care and capacity building
DOW projects have sought to rebuild systems destroyed by conflict and to construct new, improved systems to provide comprehensive care to vulnerable populations. Women’s Wellness Centers now provide care throughout the reproductive lives of women in a region where maternal morality rates rank among the highest in Europe. Our six year TB Control Partnership Program rebuilt infrastructure for TB control to combat high infection rates fueled by war, ethnic repression, and deficient health services.
Lasting solutions through local partnerships
DOW’s Women’s Wellness Centers, Tuberculosis Control Partnership Program, and Deinstitutionalization Project for Kosovar Children have all been successfully transferred to the control of local government and health organizations as a result of our focus on capacity building. Each project actively involved and trained health care providers, local organizations, and government in technical skills, advocacy, and systems management to ensure that the impact of DOW’s work for health and human rights will be sustained long after our physical presence is gone.