Thursday, 20 October 2011

Public Hearing on Adolescent Health Care in Light of New Legal Provisions

Public Hearing on Adolescent Health Care in Light of New Legal Provisions organised by the Children’s Rights Working Group in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF was held today at the National Assembly House.

At the opening, Milan Stanimirovic, Children’s Rights Working Group member and moderator of the public debate, said that the health of adolescents depends on the environment they grow up and live in, as well as their relationship with health care workers. The adopted Law amending and modifying the Health Care Law should strengthen the relationship between adolescents and health care workers by establishing trust, concluded Stanimirovic.

National Assembly Speaker and Working Group Chair Prof. Dr Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic pointed out that the issue of adolescent health care should be approached from different aspects where the state, local community, family and working environment should jointly take part in improving their health, as well as including adolescents into the decision-making process relating to their health. The task before all the relevant elements is to build trust between health care workers and young patients, stressed the National Assembly Speaker.

In his address, Minister of Health Prof. Dr Zoran Stankovic stated that young people have been given priority status in national health care documents as they are a sensitive social group, and their health is important for the future of the state. Including young people in the decision-making process contributes to a better understanding of their needs and problems. The Minister stressed that other ministries should be included in youth health care issues, as should parents, schools and non-governmental organisations. The Minister noted that the Ministry had adopted a number of regulations and implemented campaigns aimed at improving the health of the youth.

Elizabet Paunovic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Health briefed the participants on the adopted amendments and modifications to the Health Care Law and the provisions of the Health Insurance Law relating to the accessibility and quality of adolescent health care. According to these legal solutions having turned 15, patients can make independent decisions about their health, have the right to confidentiality, as well as insight into their medical records.

Rachel Hodgkin, co-author of the Implementation handbook for the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Dr Jelena Zajeganovic Jakovljevic, UNICEF representative, spoke on the importance of privacy for adolescents and confidentiality of their relationship with health care workers in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

In the continuation of the public hearing, Dr Aleksandra Stojanovic, co-author of the professional methodological guide to adolescent health care spoke of confidentiality in adolescent health care through healthcare workers’ practice. Parental thoughts and uncertainties relating to the child’s legal right to confidentiality were explained by the President of association Roditelj (Parent) Dragana Socanin, while Mina Dea Avaramovic, an adolescent involved in peer education spoke about it from the perspective of the youth.

In the ensuing debate, the participants exchanged opinions on the advantages and problems relating to the issue of privacy in the treatment of adolescents as stipulated by the Law amending and modifying the Health Care Law. They also discussed the need to educate healthcare workers on working with the youth, as well as the benefits of youth counseling centres.

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