25th Anniversary of Polish Medical Society in Lithuania
Vilnius, Lithuania, September 18-20, 2015
On the 11th of May of this year, the Polish Medical Association of Lithuania (PMSL) celebrated its 25th anniversary. In honor of this occasion, PMSL and the Federation of Polish Medical Organizations Abroad organized an International Medical Conference, “History of Medicine in Vilnius,” on the days of September 18-20th. The organizational committee was headed by PMSL President, Dr. Daniel Lipski, Vice-president, Dr. Barbara Komarovska, President of the Federation of Polish Medical Organizations Abroad, Dr. Marek Rudnicki, and Vice-president of the Federation, Dr.Bronisława Siwicka.
The conference was attended by academic faculty members from several Medical Universities in Poland and Lithuania, medical doctors, and dentists, members of the Federation of Polish Medical Organizations, as well as medical historians from numerous countries, amounting to a total of 140 participants. Of these participants, 80 were from Poland, 8 from Germany, 1 from England, 5 from Belarus, 2 from Sweden, 1 from Denmark, 5 from Moldova, and 8 from the USA. Our Polish American Medical Society in Chicago was represented by President Dr. Kornelia Krol, Dr. Joanna Rudnicka, Dr. Marek Rudnicki, Dr.Jozef Mazurek, Dr. Adam Cios, Dr Alicja Lisak and Dr. Grażyna Orawiec.
The inauguration ceremony was honored by a beautiful musical performance by Ewelina Saszenko and Zbigniew Lewicki.
The topics for the two days of lectures revolved around the history of medicine in Vilnius and the presentation of distinguished researchers from various time periods associated with the University of Stefan Batory in Vilnius. Of great interest, was the lecture presented by Dr. Dariusz Zybort, “Doctors at the Vilnius Rossa – in memoriam.” To this day, the gravesites of many accomplished professors and doctors from the University can still be found at the historic Rossa cemetery, founded in 1769 in Vilnius. The Polish Medical Association in Lithuania is undertaking the restoration and preservation of historically valuable gravestones of doctors at the Rossa cemetery in order to preserve their legacy, as well as to prevent the destruction of a landmark so important to Polish history.
The organizers of the event put forth great effort into guaranteeing the participants other attractions outside of the many interesting lectures. For example, many participants attended a wonderful banquet and, most importantly, a tour of the beautiful capitol of Lithuania. Numerous city tours with guides speaking both Polish and English enabled the participants to admire the city and see its historical treasures.
Vilnius has been a city on the crossroads of cultures. Over the years, it has been claimed by Lithuanians, Poles, Russians and Jews alike. In 1994, the Old Town of Vilnius-with its unique architectural mixture of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism- was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Three and a half square kilometers in size, it is the largest old town in all of Eastern Europe. The old town’s treasures include over 20 Eastern Baroque-style churches. The narrow, cobblestone streets may seem quiet at first, yet you only have to step inside any of the tiny cafes or shops of the old town to experience the unique spirit of the city. One of the defining characteristics of the city is Uzupis, a district often referred to as the Montmarte of Vilnius, where many artists, actors, intellectuals and students reside. On All Fools Day 1997, the independent Republic of Uzupis was declared, the republic even wrote a constitution, comprised of 41 articles pronouncing, among other things, a dog’s right to be a dog, and man’s right – but not obligation – to die.”
The conference “History of Medicine in Vilnius” provided its participants with an understanding of the foundation and operation of the Polish Medical Society in Lithuania. We learned that the organization was called into existence in response to a real need for bringing organized medical care to Polish inhabitants of Vilnius and the surrounding areas during that time. Today, the 115 members of the organization take part in charitable work aimed at increasing and maintaining the general health of the Polish population, including promoting health education through Polish language newspapers and radio shows. After regaining independence in 1991, and joining the European Union in 2004, as well as the opening of various forms of cooperation with Poland, the situation in Lithuania has allowed for a favorable environment for youth of Polish descent seeking medical education. The PMSL activities include the organizing of medical school preparatory courses. Of the 105 students who have taken the courses, thus far, over 90% have been admitted to universities. Thanks to friendly Polish-Lithuanian relations at the national level, Polish medical doctors in Lithuania have opportunities to raise their professional qualifications, as well as take part in work placements and conferences.
Friends from the PMSL, congratulations on 25 years of fine work and thank you for organizing such a wonderful conference!
Written by: Alicja Lisak, MD
Kornelia Krol, M.D