Health care and insurance
Acting reasonably and following basic hygiene rules with some basic common sense should happily limit most travel problems. If something happens though it is worth knowing now what to do then. If nothing very serious happens that requires immediate help the priority here is to contact your insurance company at their call centre. They will tell you what to do, they will call help if you need it, they will tell you which doctor you should to go. It is advisable to be assisted medically by a doctor who has been recognized and authorized by your insurance company. That goes for hospitals and clinics too. This will facilitate any refunding of money paid by you at the time of the medical assistance. If something serious happens and there is no time but call help, remember these two toll free phone numbers: 999 Ambulance, 112 general emergency.
The most common problem during long distance trips is jet lag and stomach problems caused by change of life style, cuisine and often just a change of water. For the first few days after arrival try to avoid alcohol or strong coffee. Let your body adapt to the new environment and the challenge of the stress it was put to and adjust to a new food and daily schedule. Any stomach disorders that last not longer that one day requires just a little diet. You can always try a dose of Carbo Medicinalis or Smecta (consult your doctor!). If you feel strange or if the problem might be more serious, go to the doctor immediately. Do it also if using Carbon or Smecta or any other popular medicine available in such cases doesn't help after a day or two.
Remember that when travelling you might not have the possibility and conditions to take care of hygiene. Take note that while travelling you are in an environment where there may be many different bacteria and viruses carried by fellow travelers. Travelling is a time for snacks of eating ’unusual’ food at ’unusual’ times perhaps in ’unusual’ places. Remember to wash your hands always before eating! If no water is available be prepared and have special antibacterial wipes or liquid, all available in pharmacies and travelling shops. It’s also worth considering buying paper covers for toilet seats. They might be necessary during the trip and will protect you from unhygienic toilets in railways stations, hotels, restaurants.
There are no required vaccinations when coming to Poland. All the vaccinations you had at home when children are enough to protect you from any illnesses you might be exposed to here.
Jaundice - All travelers should be vaccinated against jaundice no matter where they go. This dirty hands illness of type A that can be transmitted through food or type B that is transmitted through blood (sexual contact, haircut, dentist etc.) may be avoided by a simple but important vaccination at home. The vaccine can protect you for 10 years, so this long term investment in your travel health seems a smart idea!
Meningitis - In the Polish geographical zone there are no serious or tropical sicknesses that can be spread by insects. There is however a special condition which can be caused by the bite of the tick insect that lives in the trees and in tall grasses and drops on animals or people. It is very rare that when bitten the virus actually attacks the human system. It is very rare in fact, but it does happen. If you think that the insect attached to your body is a tick do not pull it off if you are not told how to do it safely. Go to the nearest pharmacy, or doctor and they will remove it. HIV/AIDS - Poland is considered to be a country of low HIV/AIDS indicator in Europe. Considering these statistics you must be aware though that AIDS is present in Poland. Sexual education in Poland is perhaps not as widespread and good as in the west so these statistics have to be viewed with a little caution. Condoms are available in most shops, all kiosks and drugstores and petrol stations. Remember there is no such a thing as a safe sex with strangers, you may make it safer but never 100% safe.
Students from EU/EEA countries
A student from a member country staying temporarily in the territory of Poland is entitled to free health care on the basis of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or in particular cases on the basis of a special certificate. The student is obliged to present one of these documents (it is advisable also to have a copy) together with an identity document directly to the health care provider (this information is valid for public health care institutions). The student can benefit from free health services at health care providers who have concluded a relevant contract with the National Health Fund (NFZ-Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia). Students can also purchase a health insurance policy in their home country.
Students from non-EU/EEA countries
Non EU students should purchase health insurance in their home country, before departure. In the case of the ISIC or Euro<26 card, insurance is included in the card and it is not necessary to buy another one unless one wants to increase its scope or value. Erasmus students (having a local student’s card issued by the host university) are usually allowed to consult doctors at academic medical care centres. According to state health regulations foreigners (except EU/EEA citizens, see above) have to pay for a medical consultation. The cost is then reimbursed by the health insurance company. Apart from the academic and public medical care systems there is also a well-developed private sector.
For more information see:
www.msz.gov.pl (Ministry of Foreign Affairs),
www.nfz.gov.pl (National Health Fund)
Students from foreign countries, who come and study in Poland, may choose to obtain voluntary health insurance. The insurance covers the costs of basic medical services only. The
insurance premium amounts to PLN 32.40 per month, i.e. ca. PLN 400.00 per annum. The cost of the insurance is covered by the insured person. If there is a certain group of foreign citizens interested in the health insurance, then one person - their representative - should
visit a local division of the National Health Fund (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia - NFZ) and sign the insurance contract. Only then details of the bank account will be known, to which payment of the insurance premium should be made. Payment must be made not later than 5th of each month. Citizens of the EU must have the filled E-128 form
No special kind of vaccination is required when you want to enter the Republic of Poland but during the winter season the flu is spread around the country so you may vaccinate yourself against it.
It is necessary to have immunization against Hepatitis B when you enter hospitals.
©The Wielkopolska Visitor, no 23, 2012, www.thevisitor.pl