Poland to refocus on general health after COVID-19 impact

Leszek Szymański/PAP

The Polish health service will aim to improve its treatment of non-covid patients from January next year under a new three-point programme, the health minister has announced.

Since the start of the coronavirus epidemic there has been concern that the treatment of killer illnesses such as cancer and heart disease have fallen by the wayside as resources were channelled into treating covid patients.

There are also worries that many people have shied away from visiting their doctor, thereby missing out on a potentially life-saving early diagnosis.

"First of all, we'll present a programme for people over 40 who are at risk from various diseases so that they can undergo a basic health check," Adam Niedzielski told a Wednesday press conference.

The second element of the scheme will be "removing limits from specialist care."

"We have arranged it with the National Health Fund (a state body that funds medical procedures - PAP) that the limits currently applicable to outpatient care should be removed so we can catch up on any health-care deficit caused by the pandemic because we could not operate as normal,” said the minister.

The third element of the new strategy, Niedzielski said, is hospital care. Under the programme there will be a new focus on the “main killers” in Poland, which are cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

"We want to enhance the functionality of Poland's oncological network by introducing new preventive elements as well as enlarging it," the minister said.

In addition to this the ministry also plans to create a new cardiological network, similar to the cancer one, to ensure that the treatment of patients is coordinated.

Niedzielski also pointed out that the pandemic has taken its toll on the psychological well-being of young citizens.

"The time of separation, isolation and limiting social contacts has taken a heavy toll on the youth,” he said. “It seems they have been the most affected, therefore we'll continue the process of enhancing community care for youth, but also for adults," Niedzielski went on to say.