eISSN: 2450-5722
ISSN: 2450-5927
Journal of Health Inequalities
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2/2017
vol. 3
 
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abstract:
Special paper

“My greatest dream is to build a Radium Institute in Warsaw”

Witold A. Zatoński
1, 2

1.
Health Promotion Foundation, Nadarzyn, Poland
2.
Medical University, Wrocław, Poland
J Health Inequal 2017; 3 (2): 174-176
Online publish date: 2017/12/30
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Maria Skłodowska-Curie was one of the greatest Polish scientists and patriots. Born in a modest family in an enslaved country, she spent her life not only pursuing her scientific dreams and discoveries, but also fighting for Poland’s recognition in the world (Fig. 1).
Her life was marked by periods of great happiness interlaced with troubles and misfortune. She found her intellectual kindred soul in Pierre Curie, together with whom she made some of her most important discoveries (Fig. 2). She named the first radioactive element she discovered Polonium, in a tribute to her country of birth. However, it was her second discovery, that of Radium, which constituted the real breakthrough in nuclear physics. Unfortunately, Pierre Curie died a premature, tragic death. She lived a modest life, left alone to face the challenges of being an emigrant, female scientist in the early 20th century. The value of her work was constantly questioned by the jealous, patriarchal society in which she lived. However, her further research spoke for itself and ultimately only confirmed her genius. Unfortunately, she was a victim of her own work, as radiation led to her untimely death.
Maria Skłodowska-Curie was one of the founders of broadly understood oncology in Poland. In 1932 she established the Radium Institute in Warsaw, one of the first institutions of this type in the world (Figs. 3, 4). The creation of the Institute was the result of a nationwide effort, as money came from public donations. The building process was overseen by Maria’s sister, Dr. Bronisława Dłuska, who became the first director of the Institute.
The Radium Institute became not just a hospital treating cancer, but a hub coordinating the development of oncology in Poland. Its successor, the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology in Warsaw has been leading cancer control in Poland for more than 80 years (1932-2017). In the early 1950s it created one of the first cancer registries in the world. In the 1980s the cancer epidemiology and prevention division was opened. Since then, the Institute has conducted a comprehensive programme of fighting lung cancer via tobacco control [1].
In the years 2006-2016 Maria Skłodowska-Curie Institute realised National Cancer Control Programme in Poland. I had the privilege, together with my colleagues (Professor Jan Steffen, Andrzej Kułakowski, Marek Nowacki and Janusz Meder) to be a co-author and executer of this programme. It constituted one of...


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