World Mental Health Day is meant to showcase the importance of emotional well-being and shine a light on the issues of mental health. The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity initiated a comprehensive project of improvement at psychiatric wards for children and young adults.
Our 8 Medical Initiatives
Our charity initiated and finances the running of 8 medical initiatives. These nationwide medical programmes aim to map out new, revolutionary treatment pathways - from precise and fast diagnosis to establishing a successful treatment plan for each child. On top of running medical initiatives, which transform and reform the level of care offered in public hospitals and clinics, our charity runs and finances an educational programme, which brings CPR and first aid training to all public primary schools in the country as well as 'Love Heals" initiative addressed to parents, who accompany their children at hospitals. This initiative's objective is to purchase fold-out chairs and recliners so that parents can rest in comfort while staying at their kids' bedsides.
Our charity's equipment and the practices introduced using our medical initiatives address the needs of neonatal and paediatric wards and help disabled children and young adults in the process of home rehabilitation. We also look after expectant mothers with diabetes who can rent out personal insulin pumps. Our medical initiatives create a brand new approach to medical care - investing time, attention and considerable funds into diagnosis. Based on our work experience with doctors and researchers, we realized that a precise and correct diagnosis could lead to an effective treatment.
Preventing Retinopathy of Prematurity
We launched our first medical initiative in 2001. It's one of our flagship initiatives addressing the medical treatment of prematurely born babies. Due to premature birth, babies' eyesight can suffer. We wanted to equip doctors with high-tech surgery and diagnostic equipment, such as surgical laser sets. We established 21 highly specialized retinopathy treatment centres across the county. 254 919 babies were examined, and doctors were able to save the eyesight of 10 692 babies! We have donated equipment worth almost PLN 17.5 million.
Nationwide Hearing Screening
Another initiative with a nationwide reach is our Hearing Screening Programme. Launched in 2002, the programme extends to all newborn babies in the country. Nearly 100% of newborns in Poland have their hearing tested within days of their birth. The tests, which are non-invasive, painless and universally administered in all neonatal wards, enable doctors to discern whether the hearing will develop properly. Once any irregularities are detected, further tests and treatments are introduced. Fast diagnosis allows doctors to act instantaneously, and children, having undergone procedures at an early age, can go on to discover the world at the same pace as other children. We screened the hearing of 6 529 902 children and donated equipment worth over PLN 38 million.
Non-invasive Breathing Support
Just one year after we launched our hearing screening programme, we decided to finance another initiative to transform how newborn babies are ventilated completely. In 2003 we bought equipment and effectively established a new method of medical ventilation for newborns. Our non-invasive, safe, and efficient method does not require intubation, which can cause serious damage to frail and vulnerable babies, prematurely born babies in particular. We equipped 325 neonatal wards in over 800 (and counting!) medical devices such as incubators, HNFC machines, high-efficiency medical ventilators to help doctors and nurses at NICUs care for the most vulnerable patients.
Early Cancer Diagnosis
In 2009 we decided to tackle cancer in children, focusing on establishing a nationwide programme of early oncological diagnostic, leading to effective, targeted treatment. We equipped and, in fact, helped to establish 80 specialized children's oncological centres, which we provided with state-of-the-art imaging devices such as USG machines. What is more, we provided leading children's hospitals in Poland with MRI scanners and TC scanners which ensure precise and quick diagnosis, which is often the key to establish a course of treatment. What is more, to ensure that Polish children's medicine keeps pace with the latest developments, we donated devices for almost PLN 2 000 000 to ONCOLAB, a Central Genetics Laboratory. The research and testing are done in ONCOLAB help diagnose some of the rarest diseases. In more recent developments of the programme, we donated a PET scanner to Memorial Children's Hospital. The device, which is the most advanced scanner of its type in Poland, is worth a whopping PLN 16 000 000.
Bone Defects and Limb Extension
One of our more recent initiatives aims to solve treating bone defects and limb extension surgeries. It was often the case that children suffering from these afflictions had to be operated on and rehabilitated abroad, which generate additional costs for the families. Having consulted the matter with the leading orthopaedic surgeons in Poland, we decided to provide public healthcare facilities in Poland with equipment, such as Turner frames and other medical devices, including operating tables and anaesthetic machines. Consequently, surgeons are now able to perform the majority of orthopaedic surgeries in the country.
Rheumatic Disorders in Children
Often confused with symptoms of other conditions and sometimes referred to and disregarded as "growing pains", rheumatic disorders in children can go untreated and cause serious problems in the future. We decided to address this issue in 2019, ensuring that doctors have access to top-quality equipment, such as modern medical imaging devices, and provide parents and care providers with information about the complex conditions connected with rheumatic disorders. We donated USG machines, densitometers to 13 centres that specialize in diagnosing and treating rheumatism in children.
Personal Insulin Pumps for Pregnant Women with Diabetes
The mother's health is the focus of the programme we launched in 2004. Women with type 1 diabetes who are trying for a baby or are in the early stages of their pregnancy can rent personal insulin pumps, which helps manage their diabetes for the gestation period. Unmanaged diabetes can lead to serious congenital conditions and harm the health of the baby. Personal insulin treatment can ensure a safe, stress-free pregnancy. We have donated 1 573 personal insulin pumps to 38 specialized clinics, where women can rent them, learn how to use them, and rely on trained medical personnel to monitor their health throughout the pregnancy. To date, 4 506 women used personal insulin pumps, and 2 275 healthy babies have been born!
Rehabilitation Equipment for Home Treatment
Even though our main objective is improving the level of care offered in public hospitals in Poland - which means we focus on donating medical devices to hospitals and clinics which provide free and universal medical care to all people living in Poland, the Board of our charity decided to co-finance the purchase of rehabilitation equipment used for home treatment. Established in 2005, the programme extends to children and young adults. We bought medical devices for 6 532 people for PLN 26 564 610.
We have officially begun preparations to hold the 2021 Grand Finale fundraiser, and the process of Collection Centre registration is now live on our websites. Local Collection Centres coordinate the work of volunteers and hold the local editions of the fundraiser.
Since the launch of the registration process, over 900 Collection Centres - regional hubs for the fundraising activity - applied to hold their local editions of the Grand Finale fundraiser.