Guidance

Poland: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients from Poland for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

If the patient is new to the UK:

  • explain to them how the NHS works
  • discuss how this compares to the healthcare system they’ve been used to

Ensure that all patients are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule.

Determine any risk factors for hepatitis B infection that may indicate the need for screening. Poland has a low prevalence.

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Be aware that there is a risk of typhoid infection in Poland.

Infectious diseases

Immunisation

Ensure that all patients, especially children, are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule.

Tuberculosis (TB)

There is a low incidence of TB in Poland (less than 40 cases per 100,000), so:

  • routine screening is not required
  • consider testing patients (including children) who show signs and symptoms
  • be aware that TB is a notifiable disease

Sexually transmitted infections and HIV

Take a sexual history, and:

  • screen for STIs and HIV according to risk as specified in the UK national standards and guidelines
  • test all sexually active patients under the age of 25 for chlamydia

Poland has a low rate of HIV (≤1%), so:

  • offer and recommend an HIV test if the patient:
    • falls into a high risk group
    • is newly registering in a high prevalence area
  • be advised that national guidelines do not recommend routine consideration of HIV testing of infants and children who have recently arrived in the UK

Hepatitis B

Poland has a low prevalence of hepatitis B, so:

  • consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly those who have recently arrived
  • offer screening for hepatitis B to all pregnant women during each pregnancy
  • immunise appropriately babies born to mothers who are hepatitis B positive, and follow-up accordingly
  • be aware that the UK has a selective immunisation programme for hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

Poland has a higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the UK, so consider screening for hepatitis C.

Travel plans and advice

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Typhoid

There is a risk of typhoid infection in Poland, so:

  • ensure that travellers to Poland are offered typhoid immunisation and advice on prevention of enteric fevers
  • remember enteric fever in the differential diagnosis of illness in patients with a recent history of travel to-or-from Poland

Women’s health

Reproductive health indicators

Reproductive health indicator UK Poland
Children per woman¹ 2 1

¹lifetime average

No data are available on:

  • contraceptive use
  • mammography screening rates
  • cervical cancer screening rates

Nutritional and metabolic concerns

Anaemia

There is a moderate risk of anaemia in adults (estimated prevalence in non-pregnant women is 20 to 40%), and in pre-school children (estimated prevalence is 20 to 40%), in Poland, so:

  • be alert to this possibility in recently arrived migrants, particularly for women and pre-school children
  • test as clinically indicated

Vitamin D

Consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency in people who may be at risk due to:

  • covering their body for cultural or religious reasons (lack of sunlight)
  • skin colour
  • diet (vegan or vegetarian)

Vitamin A

There may be a risk of vitamin A deficiency in Poland.

Iodine

People from Poland may be at risk of mild iodine deficiency due to inadequate intake.

Country profile

Health indicators and health care

WHO Global Health Observatory has a summary of key health indicators and health care in Poland.

Culture, politics and history

BBC News and The World Factbook provide background information on the culture, politics and history of Poland.

Languages

Language Population (%)
Polish¹ 96.2
Polish and non-Polish 2
Unspecified 1.3
Non-Polish 0.5

¹official

Source: The World Factbook.

Religions

Religion Population (%)¹
Catholic² 87.2
Unspecified 10.8
Orthodox³ 1.3
Protestant⁴ 0.4
Other⁵ 0.4

¹2012 est.
²includes: Roman Catholic 86.9%; Greek Catholic, Armenian Catholic, and Byzantine-Slavic Catholic 0.3%
³almost all are Polish Autocephalous Orthodox
⁴mainly Augsburg Evangelical and Pentacostal
⁵includes: Jehovah’s Witness, Buddhist, Hare Krishna, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Muslim, Jewish, and Mormon

Source: The World Factbook.

Migration to the UK

There were over 579,000 people from Poland living in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census.

Source: Office for National Statistics © Crown Copyright 2014.

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 18 April 2016 + show all updates
  1. Updated advice on testing for hep B and anaemia, based on current prevalence in Poland.
  2. First published.