Third International Congress of Patient Empowerment

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Third International Congress of Patient Empowerment

Third International Congress of Patient Empowerment

On 24-25 April 2019, the 3rd International Congress of Patient Empowerment took place at the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw. During the congress, Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, the director of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing and the National Otolaryngology Consultant, discussed the role of local government in the Polish health care system and in patient education.

The Congress consisted of three separate thematic blocks: “Patient as a leader of the health strategy”, “Territorial health”, “Expertise. Empathy. Evolution”. Each block contained a discussion panel.  Prof. Henryk Skarżyński attended the panel on territorial health entitled ‘The role of local government in the Polish health care system and patient education – competences, opportunities, achievements’. In addition, the following guests were also invited to join the discussion: Zbigniew J. Król, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health; Paweł Rabiej, Vice President of Warsaw; Szymon Chrostowski, Honorary President of Wygrajmy Zdrowie Foundation; Izabela Damboń-Kandziora, Director of the Department of Health and Social Policy of the Marshal’s Office of the Opolskie Voivodeship; and Dr Roman Topór-Mądry, President of the Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Tariff System. The debate was moderated by the editor of,  Witold Laskowski.

Professor Henryk Skarżyński described his extremely interesting cooperation with local governments. When the Institute started neonatal screening in early 1990s, he had to overcome resistance from both physicians and parents. Today, the Polish newborn screening program is one of the best in the world. The screening program for school-aged children revealed that 20% of first graders have hearing impairment. Professor Skarżyński highlighted that Warsaw is the first city in Europe, and perhaps in the world, where the entire population of first-graders is covered by the program of early detection of hearing disorders. Recently, the program covered the entire population of first-graders from Mazovia. As a result, during the Polish EU presidency, a program of universal screening of hearing was introduced. The Institute has also implemented ‘Health First’ program in association with ‘Summer with the Radio’  broadcast.

Zbigniew J. Król, the Vice Minister of Health, presented the legal status of competence division between local governments and the state, which, in his opinion, supplement each other. Speaking of local governments, the Vice Minister of Health mentioned the Ministry’s health programs. – If we think for a while who is responsible for healthcare, it turns out that by law, it’s municipalities. There are 40,000 programs implemented in Poland. It’s hard to tell whether they live up to social expectations; from the central perspective, they sometimes look quite bizarre, but perhaps they are important for local communities – he said.

Paweł Rabiej, the Vice President of Warsaw, pointed out that health is, according to the polls, the most important issue for 65% of the city residents. Their expectations are also directed towards the government, because very few people know who actually distributes healthcare. – In Warsaw alone, we have seven hospital founding entities. We are an exception in Poland in terms of activity. As a city, we have ten hospitals of our own and another one is underway – he reminded. The Vice President also mentioned examples of programs in response to the needs of the residents, e.g. the in vitro program that has been acting for a year and led to 150 children being born, as well as  programs promoting vaccination and building awareness of vaccinating, for instance, against HPV. The problem of pediatric psychiatry will be a great challenge for the city’s  authorities.

TThe goal of the congress was to develop a definition of ‘patient empowerment’. It is meant to be consistent with the needs of all communities involved in health care in Poland. The Congress began with the speech by the Minister of Health, Prof. Łukasz Szumowski, and the main discussion about patient’s rights and duties was initiated by Bartłomiej Chmielowiec, the Commissioner for Patients’ Rrights. The key message of the 3rd edition of the congress was the opinion of the beneficiaries of  the health care system. The main watchwords were: Expertise, Empathy, Evolution. The Patient Empowerment Congress was organized by the Foundation of the Institute of Health.  Communication.