On 16-17 October 2019, the 10th, jubilee, edition of Forum Rozwoju Mazowsza (Masovia Development Forum) took place in Warsaw. It was two days of discussions and experience sharing regarding the region’s development, with a particular focus on projects co-financed from European funds. The most ceremonial moment of the Forum was the Gala of the “Leaders of changes 2019” Competition, during which Prof. Henryk Skarżyński received an award in the “Internet Users’ Prize” category, “Human in the spotlight” sub-category, for the project “Program of hearing screen tests for first-grade students in the Mazovian Voivodeship in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 school years.”
The Forum involved a number of debates and discussion panels highlighting a range of changes that have occurred in Mazovia over the last 15 years owing to the support from European funds. Entrepreneurs, local authorities, universities, research facilities and non-governmental organisations were invited to contribute to this event. During debates, presentations of good practices, technological innovations or inspiring educational or socially-oriented solutions, they presented their contributions to the development of Mazovia. The programme of the Forum also included workshops, first demonstrations of inventions and consultations with experts in a variety of fields. One such innovative project presented during the Forum was the Sense Examination Capsule, i.e. a multifunctional diagnostics and rehabilitation equipment with tools enabling diagnostics of sense organs and the speech organ, as well as rehabilitation of patients with diagnosed disorders of these organs, including monitoring and telerehabilitation.
The advantages of the capsule were one of the subjects addressed by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński during the Debate “Overcoming what cannot be overcome – New standards in medicine and patient care.” Poland still lags behind the most developed European countries in terms of life expectancy and mortality rates from civilisation diseases. The public financing of health care in Poland is among the lowest in Europe and worldwide. On average, OECD countries spent 9 per cent of the GDP on health. Germany, Sweden and France spend on health over 11 per cent of GDP. At the other extreme are: Turkey with 4.3 per cent of GDP spent on health, Mexico with 5.8 per cent and Poland with less than 6 per cent of GDP. Improvement of the quality of life, treatment and prevention of diseases as well as improvement of other health outcomes are the main aim of the functioning of health care systems.
– Currently, there isn’t anywhere in the world a system of equipment that allows the most important sense and speech organs to be examined at one place and within a short time – said Prof. H. Skarżyński during the debate. – To have dysfunctions of various organs and senses diagnosed, patients need to visit a few facilities – this means a lot of appointments and often long months of waiting for consultation. For many, the diagnostics is such a nuisance that they resign from examinations and treatment.
Prof. Skarżyński pointed out that specialists from the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing were able to implement many screen programmes thanks to EU funds: – Conducting prophylactic medical examinations and screening tests has always been part of the mission of our Institute. The main programmes, which have been implemented over the last dozen or so years and benefited over 1 500 000 school-age children and teenagers, include a programme implemented in cooperation with the Farmers’ Social Security Fund and the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund (KRUS) and a programme implemented with the government of Warsaw and with the government of Mazovia. Screening tests are an excellent example of a comprehensive thinking about early prevention and detection of various diseases that affect the development of a human being and his/her everyday communication with the environment. An example of specific activities, so important for the Polish science and medicine, that I initiated and coordinated was the programme “Ensuring equal chances for children with communication disorders in European countries.” This issue was included as the priority of the Polish Presidency in the EU in 2011. I was the main initiator of the signing of two European consensus statements: on Hearing Screening in Pre-School and School-Age Children and on Hearing, Vision and Speech Screening in Pre-School and School-Age Children. As a result of these activities, carried out jointly with the Ministry of Health, in December 2011 the EU Parliament adopted the “Conclusion of the EU Council on early detection and treatment of communication disorders in children, including the use of e-Health tools and innovative solutions”. I also coordinate clinical and research projects with over 100 facilities in all the continents, including hearing screening in school-age children in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America – said Prof. Henryk Skarżyński during the debate.
Participants of the debate repeatedly referred to the activity of Prof. Henryk Skarżyński and the team from the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing with highest respect as a model initiative aimed at promoting universal preventive health care.
Participants of the debate also reflected on how non-governmental organisations, health care institutions and technological companies developing innovative solutions in the health care sector in Poland cope with huge underfunding of the system. They also shared their experience in how to benefit from the financing available under EU funds.
Among the participants of the debate were Maciej Piróg, MD, PhD, Managing Director of Poland’s first Budzik Clinic for children in coma; Ewa Pawłowska, Chairwoman of the Integration Foundation, and Małgorzata Gałązka-Sobotka, MD, Director of the Institute of Management in Health Care at Lazarski University and Deputy Chairwoman of the National Health Fund Council. The perspective of innovative solutions supporting the quality of life of the blind residents was presented by Piotr Pecko, Development Director of Transition Technologies. The talk was moderated by Izabela Dessoulavy-Gładysz – Expert in health project communication at the Institute of Management in Health Care of Lazarski University.
Mazovia Development Forum is held by Masovian Unit of EU Programmes Implementation. The event was organised under honorary patronage of Mazovia Province Marshal, the Ministry of Investment and Development and the Representative of the European Commission in Poland.