CIDSR is a on a mission to facilitate safe, inclusive access to medical support for women in Moldova
Trigger warning: The article mentions topics related to healthcare support for abortion and managing difficulties with pregnancies.
The CIDSR, located in Moldova’s capital, Chișinău, specializes in family planning, safe abortion and contraception. It is the work of a team of gynecologists with extensive professional experience. TARA Center is the medical branch of the Center for Reproductive Health Education (CIDSR) of the Republic of Moldova, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Founded by Rodica Commandant, CIDSR’s mission is to ensure equal and safe access to information and medical services on reproductive health and rights for women in the region.
Natalia Oleatovschi is the Development and Communications Manager at the center and is one of 75 women entrepreneurs and leaders taking part in the FEMEIE program.
Inclusive, safe access to services and information
During our chat, Nataliia started with reflecting on what the center means to her on a personal level: “I found CIDSR because I was looking for a confidential, secure way to receive access to medical services without feeling like I’m being judged, and without having to worry about who might find out or having to wait for hours in a space that didn’t feel safe. Now, the more I work here, the more I know that I am doing the right thing, I am in the right place.”
Although abortion is legal in Moldova and can be performed in regular hospitals, there is still a lot of social stigma around the topic and few information sources. Providing services and information related to safe abortion is only 20% of the work that CIDSR does.
The center provides support for family planning, pregnancy preparation and challenges, infertility, diagnosis and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases, access to contraception, medical management of abortion, cervical cancer examination, and other reproductive health services.
Nataliia and her team are also dedicated to providing medical support for people with disabilities, as the center is equipped with the facilities and knowledge to support people with disabilities through pregnancies, family planning, and all services encompassed within reproductive healthcare. They have partnered with the Ministry of Health to ensure that the center meets international accessibility standards.
Patients that are unable to pay for the service can receive support for free or at a discounted rate based on their situation. As well as those patients who are unable to travel for the consultation to Moldova, can use the service of an online consultation and support.
“Throughout the pandemic and the lockdowns, people were not able to visit the center. We started offering consultation at a distance, and now offer telemedicine options for people who cannot come to the center for any reason. They can receive a consultation, diagnosis and treatment via the phone or online, so we can make support accessible to women wherever they are.”
The presence of psychological support and proper education
The center also offers its patients access to psychological support and counseling for women, and especially for adolescents, that are experiencing issues with reproductive health. Nataliia cited several cases in which teens in crisis have had access to counseling throughout their medical journey. Parents can also bring their teenagers to the center so that they can speak with counselors and doctors to receive information regarding reproductive health.
In terms of raising awareness, the center provides pamphlets, informative videos and other resources through which visitors can learn more about various reproductive issues, pregnancies, contraception, safe sexual practices and abortion. They develop material on their own and collaborate with local and international partners on projects that are focused on spreading accurate and timely information about contraceptives and reproductive health.
The impact of the war
“My family lives in Ukraine. Due to the war, my parents in Bucha and Borodianka have lost their homes and all their savings. I am a single mother of two myself, and so expenses for our household and for our family have increased dramatically. As for the center, it was immediately affected at the onset of the Russian war of aggression with a lack of access to necessary medical supplies. We were also dedicated to providing emergency medical support for Ukrainian refugees free of charge, which also added another layer to the financial struggles that the center experienced as a result of the war. We also struggled with retaining staff and maintaining salaries due to the price hikes.”
Despite these difficulties, the center pooled their available resources and focused their efforts on making information and services accessible to Ukrainian women. One of their activities has been to make all pamphlets and educational materials available in Ukrainian. The other activity is more focused on community building and creating meetups to support the social integration of Ukrainian women in Moldova.
During that time, Nataliia was looking for different opportunities that enable her to keep doing the work that she is doing with the center while providing for her family, both in Moldova and Ukraine.
“I first learned about the FEMEIE program through the meetups that we hold for Ukrainian women as part of our community building efforts. Everyone at the meetup was excited about the opportunity and wanted to apply. I would say that, for me, the most valuable part of the program has been meeting other active Ukrainian and Moldovan women leaders. The networking meetings in person are my favorite, because you have the chance to learn about new approaches and businesses, and to receive community support. I think that every participant finds something for herself in this program, finds a value tailored to just her. The direct support is for the individuals, but the program is also for everyone to grow together.”
Nataliia’s message to women who want to make a difference
I am strong and motivated when I believe that I made something today better than what I did yesterday. I would say I have three key advices for other women who want to create change:
- Look for a job that you truly believe in, and when you find it, give it a 100% of your effort to make it work.
- Stay in constant contact with the people you are working with, listen to their feedback and take actual steps to implement it
- Find opportunities like this one where you can develop your skills and become part of a supportive community.
Nataliia is part of the The ‘Female Entrepreneurship in Moldova – Emergency Initiative for Economic Empowerment’ (FEMEIE) program, which was created to provide direct support for Moldovan entrepreneurs and displaced Ukrainian entrepreneurs in Moldova, with a specific focus on supporting women. To create a comprehensive, sustainable and empowering network, the program provides a support center in Moldova, financial support, access to global network and resources, and entrepreneurship education and training.
The program is implemented by enpact e.V. with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The aim of the program is to counteract the economic and social repercussions caused by the Russian war of aggression.