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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


7. Health and Well-Being

7.2 Administration and governance

On this page
  1. Governance
  2. Cross-sectorial cooperation


The way of shaping the health policy is regulated by two basic pieces of legislation: the Public Health Act (Ustawa o zdrowiu publicznym) and the National Health Programme for 2016-2020 (Narodowy Program Zdrowia (NPZ) na lata 2016-2020). The Act provides that "public health tasks are implemented by cooperating central government bodies (...), state organisation units including executive agencies as well as local government bodies, which implement their own tasks involving health promotion or protection, and (...) non-governmental organisations may participate  in this implementation". It is also emphasised that "when implementing their tasks, municipal and county (powiat) level local governments may cooperate with provincial local governments". Task coordination lies with the minister responsible for health matters. The minister’s responsibilities include: preparing a draft of the National Health Programme, monitoring task implementation and ensuring its consistency, reporting the necessity of taking certain actions, collecting, analysing and sharing information about the nation’s health and the prevalence of risk factors, as well as preparing information about public health tasks implemented or attempted in a particular year, including their evaluation. The Public Health Council established under the Act provides its opinion and advice to the minister.

In 2019 an Act on student health care (Ustawa o opiece zdrowotnej nad uczniami) was passed, aimed at securing equal access to health care for children and students, regardless of their place of residence. All students are supposed to be included in preventive care (by the school nurse or hygienist) and dental care (by a stomatologist in school or in a dentobus, with parents retaining the right of choosing a different service provider). The Act makes it the responsibility of school supervising bodies (mostly local governments) to secure the conditions for such care.

Cross-sectorial cooperation

There are also other pieces of legislation applicable to the nation’s health and wellbeing, which also refer to youth. They indicate bodies implementing public policies, such as the ministries of: sports and tourism, education, sometimes justice, and - just like the Public Health Act - local governments and non-governmental organisations. These documents, of course, are applicable to the whole nation and not to its particular age groups. The Sports Act (Ustawa o sporcie) is the first of them. It states: "the creation of conditions favouring the development of sport - including those relating to organisation - constitutes local government units’ own task. By adopting a resolution, the authority of a local government unit can determine the conditions and mode of financing own tasks mentioned in paragraph 1 and indicate a public objective in the field of sport which the unit intends to achieve". Another important piece of legislation is entitled the Drug Abuse Prevention Act (Ustawa o przeciwdziałaniu narkomanii) which provides that "drug abuse prevention is municipalities’ own task involving information, education and training work related to solving drug addiction problems, especially those affecting children and youth, including the provision of sports and recreation activities for school children, and activities linked to providing free meals to children participating in after-school programmes focussing on care, education and socio-therapy". The importance of central level organisations implementing the policy was also emphasised, that is the role of central government bodies and public units, including preschools and schools of all levels, health care entities, units of the Polish Army, Police and Border Guard, customs authorities, prison service, social support system institutions and the media. Therefore, the prevention of drug abuse may be considered a joint task to be carried out by both central government and local government bodies with the participation of other public services and social entities. The National Bureau for Drug Prevention accountable to the Minister of Health is a significant entity active in this field.

The wide scope and importance of tasks implemented as part of health care and those linked to the nation’s wellbeing (as an element of the quality of life in a broad sense) is confirmed by their presence in the document Poland 2030. The third wave of modernity. Long-term National Development Strategy (Polska 2030. Trzecia fala nowoczesności. Długookresowa Strategia Rozwoju Kraju). One of its chapters, Human Capital, states: "the good health of the population is a very important element of improving the quality of life. The reduction of premature mortality, morbidity and disability depends on accelerating progress on combating unhealthy lifestyles, such as tobacco use, alcohol-related harm, unhealthy diets and the absence of physical activity leading to the increased prevalence of non-communicable chronic diseases (mainly cancer, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and mental illnesses). It is, therefore, indispensable to intensify prevention efforts promoting a healthy lifestyle, implement systemic cross-sectoral activities eliminating health inequalities caused by social circumstances among other things, and improve access to top-quality health care services to ensure a swift and effective return to the labour market". The strategy also formulates a targeted intervention, which seems especially essential for the young generation: the development and implementation of cross-sectoral systemic solutions and activities strengthening the shaping of health-conscious attitudes which increase the accessibility of health programmes (prevention and rehabilitation) to reduce mortality and morbidity mainly due to civilisation diseases. There are concrete tasks involved in the intervention, such as prevention-promoting programmes, monitoring of new risks and improved targeting of health-related programmes, risk group identification and targeted prevention, raising general awareness of health and healthy lifestyles, and even the promotion of high-quality agro-food products safe for consumers, as well as the dissemination of knowledge related to the principles of nutrition.