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CHILDREN'S HEALTH - THE FORGOTTEN PRIORITY (Zdrowie dzieci - zapomniany priorytet)

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The legal basis for the protection of children's lives and health in Poland is provided by the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and Polish legislation and also by the international agreements ratified by our country. In this study, an attempt has been undertaken to assess the state of the observation of the rights of children to health. The main source materials were information from the activity of the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection and data from the Central Statistical Office. Selected data have been presented on the subject of the conditions of the life and development of children in Poland and the shaping of the factors of mortality in particular age categories. There is also a description of the main current health problems and the current state of health care for children in Poland. On account of the importance of the problem, the study concentrates on perinatal care but, on account of the scale and results of negligence, particular attention has also been paid to the health of children and youths of school age. In Poland, as in many other countries of the European Union, there has been noted an over-representation of children among poor people, which adversely affects their state of health and decreases their educational and developmental opportunities, particularly in the case of the youngest children. In the period 1990-2006, the number of deaths of infants fell by almost 80% while the mortality of children and youths from 1 to 19 years old fell by 56% but an assessment of the health situation on the basis of mortality factors has, in relation to the population of developmental age, a very limited value. In recent years in Poland, there has been observed a deterioration in the access afforded to pregnant and parturient women and newborns to prophylactic and therapeutic care adequate to their needs, which results from an undervaluing of the role of investment in the health of the youngest generation. The health of youths is the most neglected, marginalised and ignored area of medicine and health policy even though this period of life decides about the health capital with which young people enter adult life. There exists an urgent need for fundamental re-evaluations in the health policy of the state in order to improve the health care of mothers, children and youths, which demands the undertaking of systemic activities in the field of health promotion, the prophylaxis of diseases and risks and the restoration of health.
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  • Janusz Szymborski, Biuro Rzecznika Praw Obywatelskich, Warszawa, Poland
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