Survey of adverse childhood experiences debated by Poland’s National Public Health Council

WHO

Results of a survey of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) in Poland were presented during a meeting of the National Public Health Council in Warsaw on 10 October 2017. The meeting convened by the Ministry of Health and WHO was opened by Dr Zbigniew Krol, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Health, who welcomed over 30 experts from different disciplines in attendance.

The survey, the first of its kind conducted in Poland, had been undertaken as part of the collaboration between WHO and the Ministry of Health and conducted by the Empowering Children Foundation, a nongovernmental organization, using WHO methodology.

Dr Dinesh Sethi, Programme Manager for Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO Europe, presented the European Child Maltreatment Prevention Action Plan and emphasized the importance of investing in childhood in order to prevent violence and other adversity. Numerous cost-effective measures to prevent violence from occurring and to improve ACE-associated long-term health and the societal burden have been identified and were addressed during the meeting.

Katarzyna Makaruk and Joanna Wlodarczk presented the results from the 1722 respondents of the ACE survey undertaken in 5 purposefully selected universities. These show that levels of maltreatment and household dysfunction are high and that the likelihood of developing health-harming behaviours increases sharply after exposure to ACE, with the highest risks being for self-harm.

The meeting advocated the importance of child violence prevention in order to reduce the burden of mental illness, noncommunicable disease and violence in Poland. The importance of developing a strategy to coordinate child violence prevention activities was emphasized by all participants.

The ACE survey was conducted within the framework of the European Child Maltreatment Prevention Action Plan. The action plan aims to contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16.2: to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.