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At the international meeting in Geneva, the Ministry of Health presented the updated rehabilitation system implemented in Ukraine

12 July 2023

On 10-11 July 2023, the 3rd global meeting “Rehabilitation 2030: A Call for Action” was held at WHO headquarters in Geneva. The initiative was founded in 2017. Since then, the world has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, conflicts, and wars. This makes the topic of rehabilitation even more relevant. One of the key themes of this year’s event is “Lessons Learned in the Field: How Ready Are We to Respond to Emergency Needs?”

Ukraine is one of those countries that can serve as an example of lessons learned in rehabilitation, as they say, “in the field”.

Despite the war, the country is implementing international standards of rehabilitation. It is not only about restoring a person’s physical and mental health, but also about returning them to a full life, keeping their jobs and social contacts. To this end, the eHealth system has also implemented rehabilitation functionality based on the principles of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). In the future, this will allow helping people at all levels – to interact between medical, social, educational, and other sectors, and all professionals will be able to communicate in a “common language”.

“A few years ago, Ukraine launched a healthcare reform. In February 2022, a full-scale war broke out in the country. As a result, the number of people with disabilities is growing. We are doing everything we can to help them. In fact, the development of a modern rehabilitation system began after russia’s annexation of Crimea and the temporary occupation of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts,” said Deputy Minister of Health Mariia Karchevych, speaking to the participants of the event.

Thus, the healthcare reform in our country has introduced new principles of payment for services under medical guarantee packages by the state strategic purchaser, the National Health Service of Ukraine. These include rehabilitation services in healthcare, which have been implemented since April 2020.

This activity culminated in the adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On Rehabilitation in Health Care” and documents that implemented WHO recommendations. These documents are the basis for building a rehabilitation system in Ukraine.

The law separated “medical care” and “rehabilitation care”, established a list of rehabilitation specialists in accordance with WHO recommendations, and introduced the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health.

In the midst of the war, Ukraine continues to build a capable network of healthcare facilities with inpatient rehabilitation units.

“So, the rehabilitation system in Ukraine during the war is based on three pillars: legislation and regulations, service delivery, planning of the rehabilitation network and professional development of rehabilitation specialists, as well as assistive technologies,” continues Mariia Karchevych. “Our plans are to create a rehabilitation development strategy fully integrated into the healthcare and recovery strategies of Ukraine; complete the development of the inpatient rehabilitation network as part of a capable network; introduce a new (non-biomedical) system of payment for rehabilitation in healthcare.”

Another priority of this meeting was to recognize and support the resolution Strengthening rehabilitation in health systems adopted at the 76th WHO General Assembly in May this year. It was the first resolution on rehabilitation in health care adopted in the 75 years of WHO’s existence. In fact, the meeting introduced new WHO tools: packages of rehabilitation interventions, a tool for assessing national rehabilitation workforce, a tool for integrating rehabilitation into health financing mechanisms, which will facilitate the implementation of the document in countries; and also, the launch of the World Rehabilitation Alliance (WRA).