The WFH Haemophilia Organisation Twinning between the Irish Haemophilia Society and the Haemophilia Society of Bosnia & Herzegovina (H.S.B.H.) officially closes at the end of 2007.
During the past four years of working with H.S.B.H. we developed a greater appreciation and understanding of the difficulties that they have to live with on a day to day basis. Bosnia & Herzegovina is a country with a very complex political structure, with many of the semi-autonomous regions within the Federation, and a separate Republica Srebska also being part of the country. Our work has been primarily with the H.S.B.H. based in Sarajevo, although we have, along with H.S.B.H., visited Banja Luka in the Republica Srebska, and made efforts to outreach to the organisation there. In 2004, we developed an Action Plan for the Twinning Programme to bring us to the end of 2007. Many of the objectives of the Action Plan have been achieved. The capacity of H.S.B.H. and their ability to communicate and to organise events has increased dramatically. In 2006, they organised their first major haemophilia conference in Sarajevo. This was attended by some 150 people from Bosnia & Herzegovina and Republica Srebska, in addition to attendees from Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, and Ireland. In 2007, they organised a Haemophilia Physiotherapy Workshop for the region. These initiatives were supported by the I.H.S. under the Twinning Programme. During the course of the Twinning Programme the use of Factor VIII concentrate has quadrupled from 0.3 to 1.3 units per capita. (As a comparative measure Ireland is currently using 5.6 units per capita of Factor VIII.) The Nurse and Physiotherapist from the NCHCD in Dublin have visited Sarajevo under the Twinning Programme. We have worked with H.S.B.H. to assist them in having a voice in the tender process for the selection of factor concentrates for their countries. We have provided training courses for their board and some volunteers in areas such as Action Planning, Budgeting and Accounting, and Outreach. The Twinning Programme has assisted them in the purchase of essential equipment such as a PC, fax machine, printer and at the moment the H.S.B.H. are in the process of moving into their first office as an organisation, and a part-time staff member will be hired over the course of the coming months. These initiatives will continue to be supported by the I.H.S. for the duration of 2008.
One of the goals of the Twinning Programme – \’The Official Recognition of a Treatment Centre in Sarajevo\’, has not been accomplished. This is due to the ever changing political landscape and the difficulty in getting a decision from the Ministry in this regard.
Close ties have been forged with Ajdin and Almir from the H.S.B.H. They have become not just Twinning Partners for the I.H.S. but friends and colleagues and this contact will continue. Both organisations have benefited from the exchange. The I.H.S. staff and board members who have visited Bosnia and who worked on the Twinning Programme have also learned a lot from those visits. They have learned that in different countries, with a different political climate, and different economic circumstances you have to approach issues in a manner appropriate for that country and need to prioritise differently. The Twinning Programme with Bosnia has been a very worthwhile venture. The official closing of the Twinning Programme was marked at the I.H.S. conference in October 2007 in Mullingar, but the work and our friendship will endure.