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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » January 16, 2008
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From the news Editor
January 16, 2008   
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The Great Christmas Aid Orchestra, Poland's most popular annual charity drive, organized by the charismatic Jerzy Owsiak, is on course for a record-breaking year. The latest effort has raised more than zl.30 million, according to preliminary estimates. As every year, the money from the campaign will be earmarked for sick children-this time, children suffering from ear, nose and throat diseases.

Ever since communism fell in Poland in 1989, successive governments, regardless of political orientation, have tried to reform the healthcare system. Year by year, doctors and nurses have expressed their growing discontent with their financial situation, demanding salary raises that many patients would deem undeserved, given the quality of service at a typical Polish state hospital-and the corruption that many say is rife. A "free" health service, advertised as an achievement of communism, was a pretense in People's Poland and still is today-as any Pole who has ever been in hospital or whose nearest and dearest were forced to use this "free" service well knows. Private clinics emerged when the political system changed, but few can afford them, especially since the health insurance system has not been reformed either. The new government is promising big and effective reforms. Doctors and nurses don't believe these declarations and want their money now. Opposition politicians-with support from the president-are using the latest eruption of the crisis in the health service to build their own political capital. Patients are waiting; there is little else they can do.

Among the government's economic plans for this year, privatization plays a prominent role. Over the past two years, when the Law and Justice (PiS) party was in power, privatization slowed down significantly-just over 11 percent of planned income from privatization was collected in 2006, and 65 percent the following year. Now, Prime Minister Donald Tusk's cabinet intends to speed things up, shooting for a privatization income of zl.5.5 billion, or 2.4 times more than estimated in the budget. In February the government is set to adopt a four-year privatization program that foresees privatization income of zl.25-30 billion in 2008-2011.
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