Health Projects in Poland Reporting Encouraging Results

Article, 31.08.2015

Switzerland supports several health projects in Poland. Their objectives include promoting oral health in pre-school, preventing hepatitis C infections, and reducing alcohol, tobacco and drug use during pregnancy. According to the mid-term reviews, the projects are well on track and are showing encouraging results.

A kindergarten bathroom.
Switzerland is supporting the promotion of oral hygiene in pre-school children. DEZA/SECO

In partnership with the executing agencies and implementing partners, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) conducted mid-term reviews (MTRs) of three health programmes during the first half of 2015. The aim of these reviews was to assess progress and results to date. 

Promotion of oral health in pre-school children 

In Poland, 85.5% of all six-year-old children suffer from dental caries. On average, it affects five teeth compared with the Western European average of one tooth. Switzerland is therefore supporting the promotion of proper oral hygiene in pre-school children. 

So far, 70 kindergartens have been involved in education and prevention measures, with training provided to both paediatricians and pre-school teachers. As a result, 5,758 children have benefited from oral health prevention and promotion activities, which have included the distribution of toothbrushes and toothpaste, as well as information and education materials. 

Prevention of hepatitis C infections 

In Poland as in other European countries, the spread of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major public health issue. There is, however, little evidence by which to estimate the burden caused by the disease. Moreover, many people are undiagnosed, and patient awareness about HCV infection is low, especially in rural settings. 

Thanks to the project, 1,257 medical personnel have been trained on HCV prevention. Furthermore, 26,684 individuals have been tested for HCV, and 114 medical facilities are now offering HCV testing.  

Reduction of alcohol, tobacco and drug use during pregnancy 

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs by pregnant women has been shown to be a significant problem throughout Europe, with significant effects on the health of newborns. A study in 2009 reported that, in Poland, almost 11% of women smoke during pregnancy, 14% drink alcohol, and around 1% consume drugs. 

Within the framework of the project, 2,832 pregnant women participated in surveys on health habits during pregnancy, and 1,664 events on alcohol and tobacco prevention were organised. In addition, 1,253 medical personnel and coordinators were trained in alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention. 

Encouraging results 

Overall, the evaluations found that the projects are aligned with the priorities of the Polish Ministry of Health, as well as with the immediate health needs of the population. Additionally, activities are well on track and the target outcomes will most probably be achieved within the given timeline. Furthermore, there have been very encouraging results with regard to healthcare staff training, beneficiary satisfaction, and increased ownership and leadership on the part of Polish health authorities.

Health as a driving force

Health, as an issue, has been identified as one of the driving forces that can be utilised to improve the welfare of the population. In the new EU member states, this area covers a wide range of measures that vary according to the country and its specific needs. These measures include the training of medical staff, renovating hospitals, promoting health, procuring specific equipment, and improving governance in the healthcare system. 

Despite the improvement in the general health of the Polish population since the early 1990s, the country still faces many challenges. As part of its contribution to the enlarged European Union, Switzerland is providing a total of CHF 39.5 million in funding for health-related projects. Further projects include obesity prevention programmes and measures to improve social services within state-run homes and childcare centres.