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The Ministry of Health held a strategic session with the WHO to identify priorities for joint work for the next 2 years

2 October 2023

The joint efforts will be carried out within the framework of the Biennial Cooperation Agreement for 2024-2025 and the WHO Ukraine Cooperation Strategy for 2024-2030. Both documents are currently being finalized and are expected to be approved by the end of the year.

“We are grateful to the global network of the World Health Organization, the European, and Ukrainian offices for the help you provide to our healthcare system, especially for the support since the full-scale invasion. This has once again shown us how we can unite and maintain the healthcare system in these difficult conditions. We clearly realize that it would be impossible to cope with these challenges without the international medical partnership and support from our partners,” said Minister of Health Viktor Liashko.

The Ministry of Health is currently finalizing its healthcare strategy until 2030, so it is very important that the priorities of both the Biennial Agreement with the WHO and the long-term cooperation strategy logically fit into the framework of government plans. According to the Minister, the most critical challenges are now clear and should be the focus of maximum efforts of the healthcare system:

  • Demographic crisis. This challenge was evident even before the outbreak of full-scale war, and the hostilities have only exacerbated the problem. It is not only a matter of a significant decline in the birth rate due to economic and political instability, but the impact of the war on couples’ ability to have children is a major problem. Today, an extremely high number of preterm births are recorded. That is why one of the healthcare priorities for the next 7-8 years is the development of reproductive technologies. Thus, in 2024, the Medical Guarantees Program will include a package of assisted reproductive technologies for the first time, with more than UAH 1.5 billion allocated for it. This will help solve the problem of infertility, which has increased significantly since the full-scale invasion. In addition, the Ministry of Health plans to strengthen measures to prevent mortality among women in labor and newborns.  
  • Preventing premature deaths from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. This is not a new problem, but the war has seen a high increase in these diseases and mortality. Therefore, efforts to preserve the population’s ability to work through prevention, early diagnosis, and the development of access to timely and high-quality treatment of these diseases should be strengthened. 
  • Mental health. This priority is sustainable, and we will continue to work on the development of psychological rehabilitation, improving access to psychological assistance services, and implementing the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program initiated by First Lady Olena Zelenska.
  • Medical personnel. According to the WHO, in 2035, the entire world will face a staffing crisis in the healthcare system. In Ukraine, this forecast is worsening due to migration processes caused by the war and the overload of the healthcare sector, which was first triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and later, in February 2022, exacerbated by the new challenges of full-scale military operations. Because of this, there is now a need to reassess the staffing needs in professional specializations, taking into account new challenges and healthcare needs, as well as modeling which professions will be lost due to the development of artificial intelligence and telemedicine in the coming years. Based on this, the Ministry of Health will revise the system of recruiting students for medical programs.

According to Guido Weiler, Director of the WHO Country and Emergency Support Division, Ukraine is no longer just a beneficiary of aid. Today, it has become a springboard for piloting new approaches to responding to health emergencies and has a unique experience of how the country can continue healthcare reform despite the war. In addition, the Ukrainian experience of digitalization is also an example to follow and future Twinning programs.

In turn, Viktor Liashko expressed hope that the WHO global network would support Ukraine in developing an international medical partnership program that provides for partnerships directly between medical institutions. He is convinced that this model will help to strengthen the international capacity to respond promptly and effectively to challenges.