Csaba Papp, Director of the Debrecen Institute of Primary Care and Health Promotion (Daefi), said after visiting the inspection sites that their institute is a complex healthcare institution. They run the school health service, the school dental service, the city’s public health service, the primary dental service, the occupational health service, and the breast milk collection station. The compulsory school health screenings (school dental, school doctor, and midwife examinations) are financed by a normative subsidy, but the Pósa Street center, which is the site of the examinations, operating since October 2019, and the non-compulsory screenings (ECG; eye and complex hearing screening; preventive lectures on different topics for each grade; for all this, students are transported from their school to the prevention center, and then back to their school at the end of the program) is carried out – in a unique way – thanks to the municipality of the city of Debrecen. In 2022, the city spent more than HUF 100 million to support Daefi’s activities.
Daefi aims to provide children with a good experience so that they do not develop a fear of medical examinations but rather enjoy the experience in a pleasant, youthful environment, and children from different schools can make friends. As Csaba Papp mentioned, he had already received feedback from parents whose children remembered not the medical examinations from the screening program but rather the fact that they had been able to play between the examinations.
Speaking about the school health screening test results, Csaba Papp said that in the school year 20221/2022, 12,599 children were screened at the Pósa Street Centre. According to the experience of the screenings, the obesity rate among pupils in Debrecen is around 16 percent.
In order to improve this situation, three different programs have already been organized within the “Move, Debrecen!” health promotion movement for different age groups, from the youngest to high school students. Musculoskeletal disorders – ranging from mild flat feet to severe spinal problems – were found in 72 percent of children. The “Move Debrecen!” movement can also help in this area. While the rate of ophthalmological abnormalities is more than 20 percent among second-grade pupils, by the 12th grade, it is close to 40 percent, mainly caused by excessive and inappropriate computer use. For students in Debrecen, the rate of hearing discrepancies is very low at 1.8 percent. This good result is due to the careful screening of the school’s health care system. In terms of blood pressure problems, 5.7 percent of the total student population suffers from this condition, which is explained by increased stress. Following ECG examinations, 184 children were found to have a problem in the 2021/2022 school year, 67 of whom required ongoing cardiological care, and 10 of whom were identified as having a severe, life-threatening arrhythmia in the form of WPW (Wolf-Parkinson-White) syndrome, requiring surgical intervention. These children are now out of danger. Csaba Papp stressed: the fate of these ten children shows the importance of the school health screening made possible by the Debrecen municipality. The director stressed: the point of the screening program is not to find the problem but to see if they can help. And if they can, they will!
Csaba Papp also mentioned that more than 54,000 check-ups have been carried out so far in the framework of school dentistry and that nearly 3,500 children have had their teeth braces fitted free of charge – all parents have to do is pay for the braces (brackets) at their own expense. Daefi’s health promotion office has helped to organize more than 1,300 health promotion programs in one year, with a total of 21,500 participants.
According to Mayor László Papp, Debrecen is often talked about as a caring city in crisis situations, but there is another very important aspect of this: health promotion and prevention.
The main pillar of the latter in the city is the Debrecen Institute of Primary Care and Health Promotion, where the city, the University of Debrecen, and the dedicated staff of the health care profession play a very important role. The greatest credit must go to the health profession for its work on behalf of young people in Debrecen through the school health screening programs coordinated by Daefi. No other health program in the country is so complex, all-encompassing, and child-focused. It is safe to say that this is a model program that can be used as a model in other parts of the country.
The unique feature of the Debrecen model is that the compulsory examinations are carried out on a departmental basis at a centralized site. László Papp also said that, with the support of the local government, Daefi has recently acquired six new dental treatment units and will soon have access to the Pósa Street center through a more impressive entrance. These improvements will also help to ensure that professionals can carry out their work to the highest possible standards.
Importantly, Daefi’s core activities will be complemented by the city-wide “Move, Debrecen!” program, which will reach out to young people, the middle-aged, and the elderly alike. László Papp stressed that in order to promote a healthier lifestyle for Debrecen’s residents, the municipality will pay special attention to the launch of new health programs and screening programs when planning the city’s budget this year. The city will rely on the professional experience and knowledge of Daefi staff to implement these programs. Daefi is the cornerstone of Debrecen’s much healthier, more conscious lifestyle.
Deputy Mayor Diána Széles stressed that the city sees the expanded school health screening program as an opportunity to encourage a change of attitude among the people of Debrecen to encourage them to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Financing such a program requires strong economic backing. Debrecen is a robust and stable city, with a strong community, with the economic potential and job-creating investments needed to achieve these goals.