A group of 17 experts led by Artur Kosicki, Podlaskie Voivodeship marshal, was tasked with choosing the best products, initiatives and investments in the Podlaskie Voivodeship in 2008. The group decided to recognise and award initiatives by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, who was born and attended school in the Podlaskie Voivodeship, and in 2014 became the second – after the late President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński – Honorary Citizen of the Town and Commune of Czyżew. In his laudation, Artur Kosicki, Podlaskie Voivodeship marshal, emphasised the humility and big heart of Prof. Skarżyński as well as his huge contribution to the development of medicine in Poland and abroad.
Prof. H. Skarżyński was clearly moved on receiving the award, not only by the surprise prepared by the organisers, who invited on the stage two little girls whom the Professor had inserted implants, but also by the performance of Weronika Niczyporuk – a musically talented patient of the laureate. Weronika sang the song “When I regain my hearing” with lyrics written by Prof. H. Skarżyński to mark the 25th anniversary of the launching of his program of deafness treatment by means of cochlea implants in Poland, and music created by Prof. Krzesimir Dębski.
– Thank you very much for acknowledging the work of somebody who was born and often returns here. – said Prof. H. Skarżyński during the gala – I am happy that you recognised somebody who returns and helps – institutionally and personally through various hearing test initiatives and programs for children starting school education. Thank you for noticing these returns. Congratulations to all those nominated and awarded, and to the organisers for the beautiful show during this event.
The Professor, who is proud of his origins, has always been stressing that being born in a small town does not deprive you a chance to achieve international success. Using his knowledge and skills, he supports residents of Podlachia by initiating and executing hearing screening programs for children and youth since the early 1990s. They included, among other things, Hearing and voice screening program for children aged 7 from rural areas and small towns in the voivodeships of eastern Poland partially funded by Agricultural Social Insurance Fund, Farmers’ Social Insurance Contributory Fund and Society of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired “Human to a Human”, and Hearing screening program for primary schools children of farmers residing in rural areas. These programs benefited a few dozen thousand children and youths. At the turn of the century, the Professor initiated hearing tests covering a randomly selected population of over 10 thousand adults from Podlachia, Mazovia and Silesia. When launching his initiatives, Prof. Skarżyński remembers about senior citizens as well. The route of Mobile Hearing Centers, which have been travelling across Poland for four years, always includes towns in the Podlaskie Voivodeship. As part of the Multispecialist Program of Preventing Civilization Diseases and Aiding the Health of Poles ‘Health First,’ hearing screening tests and consultations in many other fields of medicine were organised, i.a. in Łomża, Augustów, Siemiatycze and Grajewo.
Already at the beginning of the 1990s Prof. Skarżyński started clinical cooperation with the Provincial Polyclinical Hospital in Łomża, where he provided a conceptual support for the opening of the Audiological Clinic equipped with an audiological diagnostics laboratory. He also began cooperation with the Otolagyngology Clinic of the Medical University in Białystok supporting a deafness treatment program in Podlachia, which resulted i.a. in the region’s first cochlea implant surgery performed on a deaf person by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński together with a team from the Otolagyngology Clinic of the Medical University in Białystok, as well as support for the establishment of the country’s first Tinnitus Clinic. On the initiative of Prof. Skarżyński, the University Clinical Hospital in Białystok has for over 10 years been operating as one of 25 centers of the world’s first National Network of Teleaudilogy, which was created as a response and solution to problems of patients who received surgical treatment for deafness but live far from the Center.
These and many other local patriotism initiatives earned Prof. Skarżyński “Man of Success 2006” in the Podlaskie Voivodeship – a title awarded by the “Kontakty” weekly and Higher School of Agribusiness in Łomża (Wyższa Szkoła Agrobiznesu w Łomży) – and honorary citizenship of the Town and Commune of Czyżew.
Among the other laureates of this year’s Podlachia Brand were the Witold Lutosławski Chamber Philharmonic in Łomża, Bialystok University of Technology and Podlaskie Zakłady Zbożowe S.A.
Apart from awarding the laureates, the event treated the audience to a musical performance referring to the jubilee of the 450th anniversary of the signing of the Union of Lublin. The performers included Big Band from Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Białystok, dancers, and a choir with Karolina Cicha, Cira and Katarzyna Garłukiewicz.