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The World Health Organization will continue to actively support Ukraine

2 May 2023

The World Health Organization will continue to actively cooperate with Ukraine in priority areas and provide the necessary assistance. This was discussed during the official visit of the delegation of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine headed by Minister Viktor Liashko to the WHO Regional Office for Europe, which aims to establish even more effective dialogue and further expand cooperation. 

The participants discussed the current situation in the healthcare sector of Ukraine, its challenges and achievements over the past year, plans to restore the medical infrastructure destroyed as a result of a full-scale war, the readiness of the Ukrainian medical system for emergencies, and the ability to respond to them, the potential for strengthening cooperation between the Ministry of Health and WHO, and the next steps that are planned to be implemented within the framework of such cooperation.

“First of all, I would like to sincerely thank WHO for its active involvement and assistance. For almost a year and a half Ukraine has been in a state of full-scale war. This is also a huge challenge for the medical system. It was thanks to your support at all levels and your prompt response to all our requests that we managed to maintain the medical front. Together with our international partners, we still maintain it. But our cooperation is not limited to responding to the challenges of war. And this is very important, because we are already laying the foundations for our healthcare system to work even better and more efficiently after the great victory. High-quality, affordable and free medical care for Ukrainian patients is our goal and our vision,” Viktor Liashko stressed.

The minister thanked the director of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, for the cooperation and support provided by WHO in times of war. Since the beginning of the war, WHO has delivered more than 3,000 tons of life-saving medical supplies to Ukraine. Among them: electric generators, emergency vehicles, oxygen supplies for medical institutions, materials for providing assistance in case of injuries and emergency surgical interventions, medicines for treatment against noncommunicable diseases, and much more. WHO has also trained more than 10,000 health professionals on the treatment of injuries and mass traumas, gender-based violence, mental health, and psychosocial support, as well as chemical exposure, epidemiology, and laboratory diagnostics, helping to provide doctors with the knowledge and skills needed to respond to war needs. In addition, WHO supports the Ministry of Health of Ukraine by providing strategic advice and recommendations on a range of issues, including healthcare financing, primary health care, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), tobacco control, and others.

“During four visits to Ukraine since the beginning of 2022, I saw firsthand the suffering the war has brought to people in Ukraine, causing significant damage to the health system and infrastructure, disrupting access to health services and medicines for the entire population, as well as for the most vulnerable groups,” said Dr. Hans Kluge, Director of the WHO Regional Office for Europe. “However, I also had to observe what extraordinary resilience the healthcare system showed. Together with the Ministry of Health and hundreds of our health partners across the country, we will continue to provide assistance and support to the provision of health services, as well as deliver essential medical supplies, vaccines and medicines to where they are urgently needed, including remote and hard-to-reach areas.”

“While WHO continues to support Ukraine by delivering vital medical supplies and providing vital assistance to people at war, we also support ambitious but realistic reforms within the 2030 Health Development Strategy, laying the groundwork for future health sector recovery,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Office in Ukraine.

In collaboration with national and regional health authorities, WHO also uses data collection and monitoring tools, including epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, regular health needs assessment, and the Health Resources and Services Availability Monitoring System (HeRAMS) to assess the availability of health services and resources to develop major interventions in war-affected regions.

Currently, the Ministry of Health, together with WHO, is also working on such urgent priorities as the field of mental health, the development of a rehabilitation system, and improving access to healthcare services, especially at the primary level.

Over the past year, fundamental work has been carried out to develop the mental health system, as well as operational steps have been taken to be able to provide appropriate assistance to those who urgently need it. Within the framework of the mhGAP program, about 10,000 primary care doctors were trained in the management of common mental disorders, educational programs of medical education institutions were adjusted, mobile team services were developed, and a new package of NHSU "Support and treatment of adults and children with mental disorders at the primary level of medical care" was introduced. As a result, psychological assistance has become closer and more accessible. 

Systematic work is also continuing to overcome infectious and non-communicable diseases and increase the level of immunization among Ukrainians.

In addition, during the working visit, representatives of the Ministry of Health together with colleagues from WHO discussed the organizational details of preparations for the participation of the Ukrainian delegation in the events of the World Health Assembly, which will be held at the end of May this year.