It is the task of the public health service in the Free State of Saxony to protect and promote the health of the population. Every independent town and every administrative district has a health authority. The latter contributes specifically towards health screening and help as well as the promotion and protection of the health of its citizens. Specific health promotion and advice services are also specifically provided for children and young people, disabled people and citizens who find themselves in difficult health and social situations. Officially recommended vaccinations are provided by the health authority. However, medical treatment is in principle not the responsibility of the health authority, but of GP practices and hospitals.
Protection against infection
One of the main tasks of the health authorities is to prevent and combat infectious diseases. It is important that transmissible diseases such as hospital-acquired infections, tuberculosis, hepatitis A, whooping cough, measles, infectious meningitis, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS as well as food-mediated infectious diseases are detected early so that their further spread can be prevented.
For these reasons, health authorities monitor medical establishments and community facilities for observance of hygiene regulations and they provide advice about the prevention of infections. Prior to any trips abroad, citizens can inform themselves of the vaccinations which they require and, if necessary, have have themselves vaccinated.
Initial instruction is provided prior to the commencement of activities in the area of food (in accordance with item 1 of paragraph 1 of § 43 of the Infektionsschutzgesetz (‘Protection against Infection Act‘). Such instruction is required by people who produce, handle or circulate food on a commercial basis and who thus touch food directly (with their hands) or indirectly (with the necessary utensils). Instruction is also required by people who work in the kitchens of eating-houses, restaurants, canteens, cafés and other catering establishments as well as establishments with catering facilities.
The most important advice centres provided by the health authority are presented below:
The health authority’s paediatricians would like to support you in your endeavour to raise your children in the healthiest possible way.
However, they will particularly offer you advice and help if your child has
- health problems,
- displays developmental difficulties,
- is at risk of disability or
- has special needs.
Doctors in the paediatric services often carry out regular medical examinations in nursery schools (in the 4th year of life) and schools (on starting school and in the 2nd or 3rd year as well as in the 6th year).
They aim to ensure the early detection of developmental disorders, disabilities and diseases which might prevent your children from being successful at school and to introduce the necessary diagnostic, therapeutic and remedial teaching measures.
Information about recommended vaccinations is also provided and vaccinations are occasionally also directly provided in these establishments. Advice is provided on all matters relating to the promotion of health:nutrition, promotion of exercise and language, help for children with psychiatric problems, etc.
Paediatric dental services
The health authority‘s dentists will help you to maintain or improve the dental health of your children.
Early detection tests are offered in child daycare centres and schools from the appearance of the first teeth to the age of 14. This means that you and your children will receive information about whether teeth require treatment, whether there are misalignments of the teeth and jaws and whether gum disease is already visible.
Recommendations with regard to treatment by dentists or maxillary orthopaedists are communicated to parents in writing.
Social psychiatric services
The social psychiatric services are often located in the premises of the health authority and they offer help and support:
- to people with chronic psychiatric conditions;
- to people with geriatric psychiatric conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease);
- to relatives, friends and carers of people with psychiatric diseases.
The social psychiatric services can also refer people about migration-specific matters which are related to psychiatric problems.
Consultations are free of charge and can take place without the need for referral. They are conducted in the strictest of confidence. In emergencies, the advisers also make home visits or accompany people in the case of difficult journeys.
The disabled advisory centre
The health authority’s disabled advisory centre offers comprehensive advice to disabled people and people at risk of disability as well as their carers and relatives.
Staff at this centre are familiar with the different community care providers and citizens receive assistance with arranging help in their everyday lives if they are not able to do this on account of their disability.
The health authority – a neutral expert advice agency
The health authority issues official certificates and documents and acts as an expert assessor. If e.g. asylum seekers apply for a change of accommodation or accommodation away from the city centre for health reasons or if they require particular medical measures, the health authority is usually brought in by social services to conduct a medical or psychological assessment.
This is also the case if the immigration authority has an asylum seeker‘s ability to travel checked for health reasons or if there is an obstacle to deportation of an asylum seeker on health grounds. What is important is that the health authority’s doctor who is carrying out the assessment is not bound by instructions, has relevant qualifications and is experienced.