Pandemic Centre

Transfer of knowledge from health ambassador project with the University of Gdansk

The Pandemic Centre will collaborate with the University of Gdansk to exchange experiences from the health ambassdor project that was organized in Bergen during the covid 19-pandemic. The goal is to adapt the same model in a polish context and among Ukrainian immigrants in Poland.

Ela Czapka
PROJECT MANAGER: Elzbieta Czapka from the University of Gdansk collaborates with the Pandemic Center to "train" new health ambassadors in Poland. She has experienced what it is like to be a migrant in a new and unknown country.
Paul André Sommerfeldt

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The Pandemic Centre has received funding to transfer knowledge and lessons learned from the health ambassador project with the University of Gdansk. The aim with the project was to offer courses and provide information to immigrants about vaccination and infection prevention during the covid-19 pandemic. This was done in collaboration with Bergen municipality and the humanitarian foundation Caritas.  

The collaboration will be done together with the University of Gdansk and resarcher in migration and health, Elzbieta Czapka. She herself is a migrant and moved from Poland to Norway in 2007 to study migration. 

A wave of migrants 

In recent years, Poland has had to deal not only with the Covid-19 pandemic, but also with the admission of migrants. In October 2022, there were 2.2 million people from Ukraine in Poland, including 1 million in connection with the war.

This highlighted a significant challenge - the problem of vaccinating migrants, which escalated with the growing number of refugees.
The access to vaccinations for migrants guaranteed by the Polish state turned out to be insufficient. 

«Norway is more experienced with including migrants into health care systems. We have migrants in Poland, but they are "invisible" and noone really thinks about them», Czapka explains.

Although many Ukrainians understand Polish, the differences between the languages can also cause misunderstandings. 

«My health ambassadors will be the key persons from migrant communities, but they don't necessarily need to have a background in health. We want to include GPs (general practitioners) to create trust towards the health care system». 

Small adaptions - big value 

The collaboration will start with diagnosing and understanding current research and regulations on migrant health and access to vaccination. In the 2nd phase, several interventions will be implemented (such as disseminating information, involving migrants and create a sense of community and collective responsibility). Finally, the interventions will be evaluted to check if they had an impect on attitured towards migrants. 

Czapka points out that when it comes to health, there is usually not time to wait for the migrants to be fully integrated in their new country. 

«We need to make small adaptions in the health care system to include them. This could for example mean to make leaflets in their language, but the migrants also need to know where to find them», she underlines. 

As a bonus, head of the Pandemic Centre, Esperanza Diaz, and Master's student Marta Svendsen will travel to Poland to organize a workshop about the health ambassador project.