Every three years the World Health Organization (WHO) publishes a health report on the 900 million residents of Europe. Yesterday the Department of Health announced the most important conclusions for Poland found in the report. Although Polish society is younger at present compared to the majority of EU countries, Polish society is rapidly ageing. In the middle of the 21st century Poland will have a society older than the European average. After the period of growth in the years 2003–2009, the number of newborn babies has started to fall. Infant mortality is still high in Poland compared to the EU average. In Poland, fifty babies in every 10,000 births die whereas the EU average is nine times lower. This is largely due to the quality of health care in Poland. The threat of poverty is higher in Poland than the EU, especially in the Świętokrzyski Province. Living conditions are worse than the average conditions in Europe. According to the report, 13% of Poles do not have access to running water in their flats. What is more, water is often unclean and polluted. The problem concerns mainly the south-eastern part of the country. Another problem is noise pollution. Research shows that 36% of residents of the largest urban areas are exposed to noise pollution, which exceeds acceptable norms.
According to experts, indicators of life expectancy and mortality in Poland are improving but not as quickly as they were in the nineties. The life expectancy of men is 72.4, so almost five years lower than in other EU countries. Female life expectancy is 81, two years lower than the European average. Life expectancy depends on education to a large extent. Men, who are now 30 years and have a higher education, can expect to live 12 years longer than their peers with (vocational) secondary education. Educated female 30-year-olds live five years longer than their uneducated peers. Residents of small towns have the lowest life expectancy whereas residents of larger cities live longest (although Łódź is the exception here). When it comes to disease, mortality caused by heart attack has been reduced threefold since the beginning of the eighties. Mortality caused by stroke is disturbingly high in comparison with other European countries with indicators not improving at all. Interestingly, Poland has a comparably low incidence of cancer (with 319 people falling ill per 100,000) but mortality is high (204 people dying per 100,000 residents). Another important phenomenon is the increasingly lower mortality rate for breast cancer among women (lower in fact than the EU average). However, cervical cancer rates are still embarrassingly high. Generally, if cancer therapy was at the same level as in Europe, 11,000 people a year would not die in Poland.