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Viktor Liashko and UNICEF representatives in Ukraine discussed priority areas of cooperation

21 November 2023

Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Liashko met with Assistant Secretary-General, Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Affairs and Supply Ted Chaiban, new UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Munir Mammadzade and their team at the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to discuss key priorities for joint work in the medical sector.

“UNICEF is our long-term reliable strategic partner. Your support helps our healthcare system to withstand the extremely difficult times of a full-scale war, respond to new challenges and develop,” said Viktor Liashko. “Every employee of the Ministry knows that our strategic goal is fixed in three parameters: high-quality, accessible and free medical care. I am grateful to our international partners and UNICEF in particular for our joint movement in this direction. I hope that our cooperation will only expand and deepen.”

Maternal and child health is a priority for the Ministry of Health. Since 2020, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health have been jointly implementing a universal and progressive model of home visits. This model aims to improve the accessibility and quality of health and social services for families with children under the age of three. In the first years of a child’s life, comprehensive support for families from the healthcare system is crucial.

During the full-scale war, access to medical care has become more difficult, so home visits by nurses are especially important. As of 1 October 2023, nurses made 4106 home visits. This made it possible to provide regular support to 1842 children and 310 pregnant women. Also, during this time, 3944 child care providers were consulted on vaccination, breastfeeding, safe environment, psycho-emotional state, monitoring of child growth and development, parental involvement, injury prevention, and child hygiene.  Additional visits were made to 177 children to correct the identified risk factors.

The Minister emphasized that there is a need to scale up the patronage model for primary care and eventually ensure its institutionalization.

The Ministry of Health and UNICEF are also constantly cooperating to improve the quality of perinatal and neonatal care. UNICEF experts are involved in monitoring the quality of such services and providing technical support. Recently, the Ministry of Health, together with the NHSU and UNICEF, held a series of meetings with heads of maternity and perinatal centers and health departments from all over Ukraine on the provision of neonatal and perinatal care. During the meetings, the problems identified during the monitoring were discussed and recommendations were made to address them.

In addition, during the meeting, the participants discussed mental health. To ensure that every corner of Ukraine has the opportunity to receive psychological counseling, the mhGAP program is being implemented as part of the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program “How Are You?” at the initiative of First Lady Olena Zelenska. One in three primary care physicians in Ukraine has already completed this training program in the management of common mental disorders. The next stage is to set up a referral system to specialized professionals and create mental health centers at cluster hospitals with the involvement of qualified psychologists and psychiatrists. Programs aimed at protecting and strengthening the mental health of healthcare workers themselves are also important, as the workload on them has increased many times over.

Another area of joint work is projects to restore damaged primary healthcare facilities to strengthen their capacities and thus increase Ukrainians’ access to appropriate medical care.

In addition, the Minister emphasized the importance of consolidating efforts in the field of immunization. This includes purchasing and updating cold storage equipment for vaccines, conducting trainings for medical staff, and providing information support.

It should be recalled that recently, Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Liashko took part in a meeting of the Coordination Center for the Development of Family Education and Child Care. There, among other things, the priorities of the Ministry of Health to improve medical care for children were discussed.