eISSN: 2450-5722
ISSN: 2450-5927
Journal of Health Inequalities
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vol. 7
Special paper

Report from the 2nd World Calisia Conference on Family Health, Kalisz, Poland, 24–25 October 2021

Kinga Janik-Koncewicz
Renata Cicharska

President Stanisław Wojciechowski Calisia University, Kalisz, Poland
J Health Inequal 2021; 7 (2): 78–84
Online publish date: 2021/12/31
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The 2nd World Conference on Family Health, which took place at Calisia University on 24–25 October 2021, was a continuation of the deliberations on the health condition of families, launched during its first edition in 2019. This year the main conference theme was “Health at the time of crises and wars’’. The meeting was organized among others by the Institute – European Observatory of Health Inequalities at Calisia University. It was held under the honorary patronage of the Polish Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Family and Social Policy and the Ministry of Health. During the inauguration ceremony a letter to the participants of the conference from Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was read out. The letter reads, inter alia:
This valuable initiative with the participation of representatives of the world of science and experts from public health institutions opens the possibility of analysing the results of research conducted in Poland and around the world, identifying new research areas and a fruitful international discussion on threats to family health in times of crises and wars (...). Ladies and Gentlemen, the good of the family is a fundamental value. We need the effort and cooperation of many environments to recognize and support its great importance. I am convinced that the discussion with international experts will result in many constructive conclusions. Thanking the organizers of the event, I hope that the meetings in Kalisz will become a platform for annual conferences, making a significant contribution to the issues of family health in Poland.
This two-day meeting focused on issues related to the development of the health situation in Poland and other Central European countries, tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and epidemiology of smoking- and alcohol-related diseases, legal consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as family health care in Poland, Israel, Mozambique and Ukraine (Box 1). One of the sessions was entirely devoted to human rights issues during armed conflicts, using the examples of Rwanda and Albania (see programme outline in Box 1). The conference was attended by around 30 speakers from 15 countries, including scientists and public health experts from Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mozambique, Norway, Poland, Rwanda, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom (Photo 1, Box 2). Due to sanitary restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the proceedings were held in a hybrid mode. One session block was stationary, and the other was carried out in parallel remotely. It is worth emphasizing that 240 people followed the meeting in a stationary manner, and the potential Internet audience included almost 4.5 thousand listeners, including students of health sciences, as well as research and teaching staff of universities.


The first day of the conference was devoted to an inaugural ceremony during which professor Andrzej Wojtyła awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the Calisia University to Professor Theodor Meron (Photo 2). Professor Meron is a graduate of the universities of Jerusalem, Harvard and Cambridge, expert in civil law, criminal law, author of many books and articles which served as legal basis for the international criminal tribunals, lecturer at many scientific institutions, and currently associated with the New York University Law School and Oxford University. Importantly, this outstanding scientist, judge and diplomat was born in Kalisz in 1930. During his inaugural lecture Professor Meron said: Terror and pain is what my family and I experienced during 2nd World War in Poland. This had a profound impact on the decisions I made later in my professional career. This determined the specialization in international criminal law and human rights. For me, the most important thing is that I have reconciled with Poland. I decided to face the past and, together with my French wife, I came to Kalisz, Treblinka, Częstochowa – places so closely related to the war. It was a very painful journey for me. I would never have believed that a direct confrontation with a traumatic past could free me from the demons of the past. The wounding and murdering of children is one of the worst aspects of Nazi evil, because even the worst barbarians, in the cruellest episodes of human history, protected children from massacres and crimes against humanity.
Professor Andrzej Wojtyła in his laudation in honour of Professor Meron emphasized that the entire academic community of Kalisz is proud to accept the fact that such an outstanding judge, a world-renowned scientist, and at the same time a man of impeccable life attitude and decency, involved in public affairs, wished to accept the first honorary doctorate of the Calisia University. During this ceremony, by the decision of Kalisz city councillors, Professor Meron also received the title of Honorary Citizen of the Kalisz City.


The second day of the conference began with a plenary session chaired by Professor Andrzej Wojtyła, Rector of the Calisia University and Professor Witold Zatoński, Director of the Institute – European Observatory of Health Inequalities at the Calisia University. The session opened with a welcome speech from Professor Andrzej Wojtyła who referred to the document of United Nations signed by all countries of the world in 2014 on sustainable development goals to achieve by 2030. The document summarised global indicators of social development, which highlighted poverty eradication, health promotion and promotion of education. Professor Wojtyła emphasized the role of policies designed to ensure the well-being of the family and the role of family itself in achieving these goals, as the family is a natural, elementary social unit in all societies in the world. Professor Witold Zatoński (Photo 3), Director of the Institute – European Observatory of Health Inequalities at Calisia University welcomed all speakers and participants of the conference. He referred to the previous Calisia Conference and expressed hope for continuing annual scientific meetings at Calisia University. Next, Aurelijus Veryga, the Former Minister of Health of Lithuania and current Member of Lithuanian Parliament, who came to politics from being an active researcher and a professor at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences as well as active non-governmental activist in the field of tobacco and alcohol control, gave a welcoming speech. He highlighted his long collaboration with Professor Zatoński and his colleagues, and the role of Polish team who did tremendous job on tobacco control demonstrating not just to Polish society but to the international society that tobacco control can be evidence based. He mentioned as well the new challenges in public health brought by the COVID pandemic [2]. Professor Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine presented the keynote lecture on the European report containing data on health and sustainable development in the light of the pandemic [3]. Professor Jurgen Rehm from Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Canadian Center for Addiction and Mental Health, gave a lecture entitled Alcohol and health in the countries of the central and eastern European Union – the status quo and policy opportunities against alcohol [4]. Then Professor Witold Zatoński presented the development of the health situation in Poland, with particular emphasis on the last 30 years. Resume of parallel sessions is presented in papers by Leif Aarø et al. [5] and by Andrzej Trybusz [6].


An integral part of the conference was a poster session, which consisted of 62 posters showing scientific achievements mainly in the field of health sciences, but also in safety, environmental protection and technical sciences. The graphic presentation of the most important research outcomes aroused great interest among the participants of the conference and was an opportunity for lively discussion. The competition committee selected the authors of the best posters (Photo 4). Among them were: Zuzanna Chęcińska-Maciejewska, Cezary Wojtyła and Kinga Janik-Koncewicz. In addition, 6 additional posters were distinguished.


Conference Organizers would like to thank the Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center (Poznańskie Centrum Superkomputerowo-Sieciowe) for the technical support at the conference provided in a hybrid way. Photos included in the publication were taken at the request of conference organizers.


The authors report no conflict of interest.


1. Janik-Koncewicz K. Report from the Calisia World Conference on Family Health, Kalisz, Poland, 9–10 June 2019. J Health Inequal 2019; 5(1): 2-10.
2. Veryga A. Welcome addresses from Professor Aurelijus Veryga, Member of Parliament, former Minister of Health of Lithuania. J Health Inequal 2021; 7(2): 85.
3. McKee M. Never again. Health and sustainable development in the light of the pandemic. What went wrong?. J Health Inequal 2021; 7(2): 116-119.
4. Rehm J, Stelemekas M, Kim KV et al. Alcohol and health in Central and Eastern European Union countries – status quo and alcohol policy options. J Health Inequal 2021; 7(2): 91-95.
5. Aarø LE, Zatoński M, Janik-Koncewicz K, Zatoński WA. Closing remarks from the 2nd World Calisia Conference on Family Health. Tobacco and alcohol policies and measures. J Health Inequal 2021; 7(2): 86-90.
6. Trybusz A. Closing remarks from Calisia Conference sessions: (1) Family healthcare in Poland, Israel, Mozambique, and Ukraine, (2) COVID-19 pandemic, and (3) Human rights in times of armed conflicts. J Health Inequal 2021; 7(2): 113-115.
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