"Children with developmental disabilities in Montenegro do not have adequate access to health and social care"

The president of the Board of Directors of NARDOS and the Rays of Hope Association, Svetlana Dujović, said that associations of parents of children and youth with developmental disabilities have come a long way from isolation to recognition.

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From the round table, Photo: PR Center
From the round table, Photo: PR Center
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Children with developmental disabilities in Montenegro do not have adequate access to health and social care, which is why it is necessary for the state to ensure a more serious approach in financing the programs and projects of non-governmental organizations that provide them with support services.

This was announced at the round table "Rights of children with developmental disabilities to adequate access to health and social protection", which was organized by the National Association of Parents of Children and Youth with Developmental Disabilities of Montenegro NARDOS.

NARDOS is a conference of organizations with member associations of parents: First Association and "Staze" from Podgorica, "Ray of Hope" from Pljevlja, "Oaza" from Bijelo Polje and "Children of Montenegro" from Tuzi.

The president of the Board of Directors of NARDOS and the Rays of Hope Association, Svetlana Dujović, said that associations of parents of children and youth with developmental disabilities have come a long way from isolation to recognition.

"During the past years, there have been many developments, but also problems. "Positive changes have taken place, laws and strategies have been adopted, the development of services at the local level is supported, but there are numerous problems," Dujović pointed out.

Speaking about the problems, Dujović said that there is no register of data on children with developmental disabilities and persons with disabilities, that the legal regulations are not in accordance with the Convention, and that intersectoral cooperation is not at a satisfactory level.

She said that, as far as social protection is concerned, the only services financed by local governments and the state are day care centers at the local level.

"There are 17 of them in Montenegro and they are licensed for daycare for children with developmental disabilities, and some for daycare for adults with disabilities over 27 years old," said Dujović.

She pointed out that there are not enough developed support services in the community, stating that the majority of services are still provided by parents' associations and organizations of people with disabilities at the local level.

The president of the National Association of Parents of Children and Youth with Developmental Disabilities of Montenegro - NARDOS, Savo Knežević, said that it is necessary to establish policies and programs that will ensure adequate health care for children with disabilities.

"We need to have a register of children with developmental disabilities and persons with disabilities, because we cannot implement any policy in the state if we do not know the exact number of children and persons with disabilities. Also, it is very important that we have a register of rare diseases, a protocol for the health care of children with disabilities and people with disabilities in health institutions", said Knežević.

He said that it is important that there are systematic programs once a year and screening programs for children with developmental disabilities, that there is systemic support for their parents, and he pointed to the lack of medical staff.

The Director General of the Directorate for Health Care, Pharmacology and Regulated Professions of the Ministry of Health, Radovan Nikolić, said that in that department they recognized that a significant step forward was needed in terms of interdepartmental cooperation.

"Much better synchronization, linking and creation of a complete system is needed. At the moment we are functioning separately, each in our own way. We have certain data, they are not combined, everyone collects them for themselves, which creates additional problems when creating policies," said Nikolić.

The Deputy Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, Snežana Mijušković, said that children with developmental disabilities in Montenegro do not have the same access to rights as all other children.

As she stated, these differences are far greater if we are talking about individual regions of Montenegro.

"Today, children with developmental disabilities in Kolašin do not have any services related to the health system, and the social and child protection system. Children in Pljevlja, Žabljak, Šavnik do not have a doctor, so children with developmental disabilities do not have special protection either," said Mijušković.

She reminded that Montenegro has adopted a large number of strategic documents, laws, which are based on certain international standards, stating that it is a questionable fact how much this has been implemented in practice.

"I think that the state must have a much more open and serious approach to financing the programs of non-governmental organizations," Mijušković pointed out.

The representative of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Jelena Raičević, reminded that the reform of the social and child protection system has been carried out in that department for years.

"What we are currently emphasizing is the process of deinstitutionalization. "In the past years, the structure of the children housed there has changed a lot in the Mladost Children's Home in Bijela, and there are more and more children with developmental disabilities who require additional support," said Raičević.

She said that the deinstitutionalization process strategy for both children and adults is being drafted, stating that the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare has formed a working group to draft that document.

The representative of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Emin Ljuljanović, reminded that the Strategy for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities from Discrimination and the Promotion of Equality defines 12 operational goals, one of which relates to accessibility to the health system and protection.

He said that this year the Ministry distributed about EUR 450 thousand through the Public Competition for Non-Governmental Organizations and supported the financing of 20 projects and programs of non-governmental organizations that contribute to the protection and promotion of unity.

"About a quarter of the projects are from non-governmental organizations that deal with children with developmental disabilities and parent associations," said Ljuljanović.

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