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The international community supports transformation of the healthcare system in Ukraine

21 May 2018

The 71st session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s most important annual meeting, is held in Geneva, Switzerland on 22-26 May. In the first two days, the Ukrainian delegation met with representatives of different states, international organizations, and health community and discussed the most important health issues faced by Ukrainians today.

At the meeting with Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, the Ukrainian delegates outlined the ongoing transformation of the healthcare system in Ukraine, requested assistance in obtaining access to Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territories and Ukrainian political prisoners held in the Russian Federation.

"Neither Ukrainian doctors, nor medical professionals from international organizations are allowed access to Russian prisons or detention places. We all must support these people, because this is not only a matter of politics, but also a critical healthcare issue. The lack of access has serious implications – we cannot prevent communicable disease outbreaks or help Ukrainians with tuberculosis or HIV / AIDS", noted Dr Ulana Suprun, acting Minister of Health of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian delegation also raised the issue of two Ukrainian prisoners detained on politically motivated charges – Oleg Sentsov and Volodmyr Balukh – both men are determined to continue the hunger strike, but are denied medical care. Therefore, acting Minister of Health of Ukraine together with other Ukrainian delegates called upon the international community to actively engage in this process.

Representatives from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, USA (CDC) suggested some ways to enhance the work of the Public Health Center of Ukraine and state laboratory networks, emphasized the importance of implementing vaccination programs effectively and the need for additional immunization campaigns to increase vaccination coverage across the country.

Ukrainian delegates requested support in training our special services to enhance preparedness against chemical and biological security risks. The Russian Federation has not only become the enemy of Ukraine, but has also demonstrated possession of chemical and biological weapons. The war in Syria and the Russian attack on Skrypal provided clear evidence that Russia can use these weapons in our territories as well.

"We also met with Valeriy Malashko, Minister of Health of Belarus, and discussed cooperation agreements on human organ transplantation, as well as opportunities for experience exchange in HIV / AIDS prevention. In the near future, we are planning to sign contracts between the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and Belarusian clinics on bone marrow and organ transplantations. In addition, we agreed that Belarusian specialists will hold visits to Ukraine and help us develop transplantology, which is really important in view of the recent adoption of the law On Transplantation of Human Organs, Tissues and Cells", commented Dr Ulana Suprun.

Representatives of the Ukrainian delegation also met with Łukasz Szumowski, Minister of Health of Poland. Back in 1999, Poland began a similar path towards transformation of the national healthcare system and has already come a long way in this respect.

"Polish experience, including both successes and mistakes, is very valuable to us. Although we're clearly just beginning transformation of our healthcare, this is a good chance to learn from the colleagues and to do the best we can. In particular, we have agreed to cooperate on emergency care improvement and organization of trainings for Ukrainian specialists", concluded Dr Ulana Suprun.

The Ukrainian delegation had a productive meeting with colleagues from the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality of Spain. Developing the national health reform strategy, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine was inspired by the Spanish experience.

The 71st session of the World Health Assembly ends on May 26.

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