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Primary Health Care in Homeless Shelters


Detailed description of the Good Practice

By law in Poland, every person has the right to emergency medical care, regardless of his or her legal status. Primary health care, however, is not available for those in the marginal or minority sections of society who are not registered under the various categories of eligibility. As a result, when these people fall ill they remain without treatment until their condition becomes chronic, or an “emergency”. At this point, treatment may come too late or be very costly, or these people may have spread infections to others.

To address this issue, a special programme called Palma Initiative was started in Poland’s second largest city, Łódź, in June 2000. It provides primary health care to all residents in selected homeless shelters, regardless of their status. Currently, two shelters are involved in this scheme, and each has consulting rooms for doctors and isolation rooms for the sick. Many people have been treated under this scheme, which has been reported to have reduced the need for inpatient treatment and has also enabled former homeless people to take up full-time employment.

Health care

Participants of the Good Practice

Palma Hospital
St Brother Albert Society of Social Assistance

Target group of the Good Practice

Residents of Łódź who are not eligible to primary health care.

Funding of the Good Practice

  • The City of Łódź gives 60 % - for the building and one meal a day;
  • inhabitants who work during the day make a contribution to the shelter; and
  • marketing – painting exhibitions, events and sales of work – adds to revenues for the general operating expenses.

More Details of the Good Practice

Documentation and documents

Available files

Data sources and references

http://www.euro.who.int/document/e80225.pdf (Visited on the 13th of October 2008)