Jan Tadeusz Masiel (Poland)
MEPs speak out on dementia
Jan Tadeusz Masiel, MEP, talks to Alzheimer Europe about the challenges people with dementia and their carers currently face in Poland
Alzheimer Europe: Mr. Masiel, you have been an active member of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance since its creation last year. What are the key challenges that people with dementia and their carer's face in Poland?
Jan Tadeusz Masiel: First of all, there is a lack of a national action plan for people who suffer from dementia in Poland. Government involvement in care for the sick as well as the prospects for a solution to the problem of care in the future are missing in my country. The growing number of older people potentially threatened by Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia requires that a national plan of assistance be put in place for this group of people.
In 2003 the Polish Association for the Care of People with Alzheimer’s disease gave abn overview of the situation of people with dementia in the Polish Senate and proposed the creation of a National Program to combat Alzheimer's disease, but no action followed this meeting.
Another problem is that the sick do not have any privileges. Medicines are reimbursed by the government at 70% but only for the first stage of the disease. For the second and late stage of the disease in Poland, as in the rest of the world, the drug memantine is used but it is not refunded in our country. The monthly cost of treatment is estimated as PLZ 500 (about €130). Patients can get a care allowance regardless of their age, if they have a deicion on full disability (1st invalidity group), The care allowance is the same as that given to anyone in Poland who is over 75.
Moreover, there is a lack of day care homes. There are only about 15 of them in the country and a limited number of specialist home carers. Day care homes are created and run by Alzheimer's organisations with the cooperation of local governments. In Warsaw, there is one such house for 12 patients.
The problems listed above are the biggest challenge for patients and their families but also for the government when it comes to daily life problems; when the carer (adult child) is going to work. In a nutshell there is a lack of institutionalised care for the sick in Poland.
Finally, we can see in Poland a lack of support for patients staying all the time at home. There are no reimbursements, no financial support and not enough social workers going to the house of the patient. Care is expensive and the sick cannot afford it. The sick can buy per month on prescription (50% payment) 60 incontinence pads and that is everything.
AE: Governments across Europe are starting to pay more attention to the demographic changes in our societies and the resulting increase in the numbers of people with dementia in the future. Are there similar discussions in your country on a governmental or parliamentary level?
JTM: As far as I know, the Polish government does not pay that much attention to this problem at the moment, which of course might have very bad consequences in the future.
AE: Do you believe that Poland will follow the example of France and create a National Alzheimer’s Plan
JTM: I would like my country to follow the example of France in creating a National Alzheimer’s Plan but looking at the current situation in Poland it is unlikely that this will happen.
AE: What do you believe should the three policy priorities be for Polish policy makers to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers in your country?
JTM: In my opinion, it is necessary to call for the unification of standards of treatment and care in EU countries, the creation of a strategy to help states lagging behind those standards and to encourage them to devote specific measures for financing care for a person with dementia residing in the house. The government in Poland always indicates other important priorities. Unfortunately, the old and the sick are not getting enough attention in my country.
AE: Finally, a last question on the need of a European response to the growing numbers of people with dementia. Would you support the development of a European Action Plan in this field and, if so, what should the priorities for such a European collaboration be?
JTM: I would certainly support the development of a European Action Plan in this field and the Written Declaration which I have submitted in the European Parliament with my colleagues Françoise Grossetête, Katalin Levai, John Bowis and Antonis Trakatellis calls for more coordinated European research and an exchange of best practices in the field of care approaches.
Jan Tadeusz Masiel (Poland) talks to AE about his priorities for the European elections (May 2009)
In the run up to the elections, Alzheimer Europe asked Members of the European Parliament the following questions:
1. As the mandate of this European Parliament draws to a close, we would be very interested in hearing which you consider to be the key accomplishments of this Parliament which had a direct impact on people with Alzheimer’s disease and their carers?
2. After the European Parliament elections in June, which are the main policy initiatives that will be important for people with dementia and their carers?
3. If you are re-elected, do you have any personal priorities that would be of particular interest to people with dementia and their carers?
Jan Tadeusz Masiel: The European Parliament has played a significant role in raising awareness about Alzheimer's disease and the impact this disease has on people themselves, their carers and society. The members of the European Alzheimer's Alliance - of which I have been an active member since the very beginning - has been instrumental in raising the profile of this disease not only at European level but also at national level. It is without any hesitation that I joined Françoise Grossetête and four fellow MEPs to launch the EP Written Declaration on the priorities in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. This Declaration received an outstanding response from my colleagues. I am very proud that the European Parliament has added its voice to that of the Council and the European Commission who both recently put Alzheimer's disease on the European agenda.
The next policy initiatives must focus on research. More research must be carried out in order to find the cause(s) of Aheimer's isease and then the identification of treatments. In our current economic crisis, it is important that health still receives due attention and that investments in health are kept on the agenda. I thus much welcome this European initiative of the Member States to network in order to pool resources in the field of research, to avoid duplication and a waste of resources, and to optimise research. This should be of great benefit not only to people with dementia but also to carers.
I am keen to see policies that will address the inequalities across Europe in the area of diagnosis, treatment and care. I would call for European guidelines and strategies to help the Member States that are lagging behind.
The EP Written Declaration calls for a European action plan for Alzheimer's disease. These two initiatives should certainly be included in this European Plan.
I hope that the European Alzheimer's Alliance will continue during the next mandate and I pledge my continued and active support. My priorities will be to ensure that the decisions made by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council are followed by concrete action that will relieve the plight of people with dementia and carers, and take up the challenges of an ageing population. I will also do my very best to motivate Polish policy makers to ensure that Poland takes these European developments fully on board.
Last Updated: Thursday 29 March 2012