The Republic of Poland is a country located in Central Europe with a population of over 38 million people making it the sixth most populous member of the European Union (EU). Poland’s current constitution dates from 1997. The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The 460 members of the lower house of parliament (the Sejm) and the 100 members of the senate, are directly elected by a system of proportional representation to serve four-year terms. Poland became a member of the EU in 2004. Poland’s high-income economy is considered to be one of the healthiest of the post-Communist countries and is currently one of the fastest growing within the EU, with a nominal per capita GDP of $31,430 (2018 est.).
Life expectancy at birth in Poland was 77.5 years in 2015. Large inequalities exist, with women expecting to outlive men by eight years while the gap between the highest and lowest educated Poles is ten years. Less than half of the years lived after age 65 are spent free of disability. Cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer are the biggest causes of mortality. Heavy alcohol consumption is much more common among Polish men (29%) than women (8%). Among adolescents, 26% of 15-year-olds report having been drunk at least twice in their life, which is above the EU average for girls (23.5%) and slightly below the average for boys (27%).
Tackling health inequalities has not, historically, feature high on the political agenda in Poland. However, in recent years a number of measures have been introduced that have specifically targeted strengthening public health to reduce health inequalities. The Public Health Act adopted by the Polish parliament in 2015 aims at strengthening mechanisms diagnosing public health problems, reducing prevalence of main risk factors that lead to diseases and increasing chances of their early diagnosis. The 2016-2020 National Health Program (NHP) is the strategic document related to public health issues. The objective of NHP is to prevent diseases more effectively and improve health in the society. This is achieved by educational campaigns, promotion of healthy food, prevention of obesity, assistance in combating tobacco and alcohol addictions, providing support for people with mental health problems, early diagnosis of diseases and development of scientific research. The NHP includes tasks related to priorities in health promotion and prevention of diseases. In addition, the Government wants to raise the proportion of GDP spent on public health care from 4.7 percent to 6 percent.
An overview of policy responses addressing health inequalities in can be found in our Policy Database.
The issue of health inequalities is gaining importance in Poland. Many of the policy responses that address the issue do so implicitly. Cross-sectoral collaboration is on the increase, with an intersectoral committee being recently established to implement a health in all policies approach.
An overview of projects and initiatives that are currently taking place or that have successfully been finalized, and that are addressing health inequality issues, can be found in our Project Database.
Please find below an overview of key actors in Poland working on health inequality issues:
- Narodowy Instytut Zdrowia Publicznego – Panstwowy Zaktad Higieny – National Institute of Public Health & National Institute of Hygiene
Are you aware of any other key actors that should be added to this list?
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Please find below an overview of relevant documents addressing health inequality issues in Poland. Further publications can be found in our Publications Database.
- Health situation in the Polish population (2008): Report by the National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene, which describes areas of disparities in health in relation to education, gender.
Are you aware of any other key resources that should be added to this list?
Please let us know!