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Andrzej Grzybowski

Professor of Ophthalmology, Chair of Ophthalmology at the University of Warmia and Mazury, Olsztyn, Poland

If you weren’t an ophthalmologist…

I love reading, with a particular interest in Polish as well as North and South American literature, but also 19th-century Russian literature. When I was in secondary school, I planned to study literature, and I would be happy to have become a writer.

A little-known or interesting thing about you...

Some 20 years ago, I became involved in local politics and became deputy mayor of Poznań, Poland’s 5th largest city, with a population of half a million. I conducted the first and largest process of “employee privatization” of ambulatory healthcare centers, involving 3,500 people. At that time, Poland was transitioning from communist (public) to free-market economy, with a great majority of healthcare facilities being public, underinvested, and very ineffective. Instead of preparing and introducing very complicated reforms of unknown effectiveness, I decided to start an original project of “employee privatization” that aimed to support employees to become entrepreneurs – eventually supported by parties across the political spectrum. The process lasted 12 months, came to fruition at the start of 2000, and ended up being a huge success, with all services available to citizens free at the point of use. As I had predicted, it took only 2-3 years to see real changes in investments in building infrastructure and equipment. Now, over 80 percent of ambulatory healthcare in Poland belongs to the private sector (the remaining 20 percent is linked to hospitals that are still mostly public), with 99 percent belonging to primary care physicians, still free to the public at the point of service.

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