Kyiv
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Ukraine can lose the medical reform – Ministry of Health, activists

Kyiv, July 12, 2017.

Seventy percent of Ukrainian patients are willing to accept copayment of medical services. These are national survey results. However, the parliamentary Committee on Public Health has removed this position from the medical reform. “This will leave the health care system as it is now. […] At the moment, 97% of Ukrainians pay for medical services, ” Olha Stefanyshyna, Acting Director of Charity Fund “Patients of Ukraine”, said during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

“This means that we will be forced to pay that 15-20 % suggested by the Ministry of Health unofficially. […] This will leave in place the current corruption schemes enriching head doctors. […] This medical elite is now getting enriched through receiving unofficial payments. These are the people who do not want payments to be official because it will mean getting less money and paying taxes, ” Oleksandra Ustinova, Board member of Anti Corruption Action Centre, commented.

Maintaining medical subvention on the level of primary healthcare is another key change proposed by the parliamentary committee. “This is one of the red lines for us […]. If this change remains, we will not even submit the bill for the vote,” Ulana Suprun, Acting Minister of Health of Ukraine, emphasized. “On the ground, it will mean doubling the amount of health care funding and giving it all to the regions. […] I think corruption there will be huge,” Oleksandra Ustinova added. She noted that in such scenario, the money would not be distributed at equal rates, as it would have been in the case of establishing the National Agency. “It was supposed to be the sole body in charge of funds, that would establish fair rules for all regions,” Ms. Ustinova added.

The changes to the bill also cancel the approval of international treatment protocols. Ms. Suprun explained that as a result, patients in Ukraine would not be able to get treatment that complies with international standards. “All latest medicines are not listed in the national protocols now. We have to import them illegally,” Iryna Lytovchenko, Co-founder of International Charity Fund “Tabletochki”, said. Ninety-four people are now in line to get medical treatment abroad. The government should allocate UAH 186 million to cover its costs.  “For every person who goes abroad to get treatment, we could treat two or three people in Ukraine,” Ulana Suprun said. “130 thousand lives is the price we will pay yearly if these changes to the bill are approved,” Dmytro Sherembey, Head of the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV / AIDS, added.

“Everyone understands – if there are no international treatment protocols, no single transparent funding body, and no possibility for citizens to have influence over their treatment, then there is no reform,” – Acting Minister of Health emphasized.

Ms. Suprun noted that even with the changes to the principal positions, the bill may not be submitted to the Verkhovna Rada for the vote. She explained that out of 286 proposed changes to the bill that have still to be considered, the Committee on Public Health has only gone over 50 of them.  If the parliamentary committee does not finish revising proposed changes by the end of the day, the bill will not get submitted for the vote in the Verkhovna Rada. “The imitation of the healthcare reform will lead to a general loss of faith in the whole reforming process in the country,” Ulana Suprun emphasized.

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