NIK on dental care in Poland

The dental care market in Poland is dominated by private entities. In 2011, nearly 80 percent of the insured did not use the dentist’s services as part of the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia: NFZ) even once. The services provided in outpatient clinics based on NFZ contracts have a limited scope, some procedures are not subject to refund and most patients do not even know where the nearest dental office contracted by NFZ is located.

The access to public dental services in individual regions of Poland is highly differentiated. It is worst in small towns and villages where most children are completely devoid of professional dental disease prevention and treatment[1]. The reason is among others that dentists mostly open their offices in large cities and university centres which forces small town inhabitants to look for a dentist outside their communes.

Not a single national programme for caries prevention financed by the Ministry of Health was in place in the period 2010-2012. Limited funds were the reason, according to the Health Department. Dental treatment was not defined as one of priorities in the ordinance of the Minister of Health of 21 August 2009. The facts are shocking: nearly 10 percent of Polish seven-year-olds have never been to the dentist’s and as much as 92 percent of 15-year-olds have dental caries[2].

NIK believes that not only parents but also the education and healthcare systems are to be held accountable. In more developed countries both the mouth hygiene education and prevention are the tasks of schools and kindergartens. Polish educational institutions execute them to a minimum extent only. The situation is even worse due to the shutdown of dental offices at schools.

Activities of the Minister of Health for the prevention of caries in children and youth proved ineffective. The National Health Programme for 2007-2015 assumed a significant increase in the percentage of children and youth covered by health education, caries reduction in their case and improved access to dental services. The key tasks of the Programme have not been completed yet. The programme called Monitoring of the oral health condition in Polish people mostly did not bring expected results, either.

At the same time, NIK approved of the Minister’s efforts to obtain additional financing from foreign sources for health education programmes. An example is the programme to promote mouth health in pre-schoolers as part of the Swiss-Polish Cooperation Programme. Proactive approach of the Health Department Head resulted in signing the contract in July 2012.

Most of the audited communes neither promoted mouth disease prevention nor analysed their inhabitants’ health needs in that respect. The commune representatives were of the opinion that such activities lie within the responsibility of the Health Department and the National Health Fund. None of the local government units financed dental services. The reason was the deficit of funds. On the other hand, initiatives taken by some communes to facilitate access to dentists are remarkable. For instance, a dental office was created in a lower secondary school in Osiek Jasielski and a resolution was passed in Kielce on providing access to dentists from communal resources on convenient terms.

[1]Opinion of the child dental health consultant.

[2] Results of research made by the Medical University of Warsaw.

Article informations

Date of creation:
03 September 2013 12:20
Date of publication:
03 September 2013 12:20
Published by:
Andrzej Gaładyk
Date of last change:
03 September 2013 12:20
Last modified by:
Andrzej Gaładyk
NIK on dental care in Poland © Conor Lawless

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