Liquidation of Sanitary and Epidemiological Service: reform imitation or a new system of public health?  



Eliminating a state agency is a complicated process that didn’t go flawlessly in Ukraine.

Kyiv, September 22, 2016.  As of today, the functions of the liquidated Sanitary and Epidemiological Service (SES) of Ukraine are distributed between the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine (issues concerning food all the way to the consumer) and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine (issues concerning public health). The control function of the former SES moved to the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Customer Protection, which continues to conduct scheduled and unscheduled inspections of institutions, enterprises and organizations. However, the government priority should be not a regulation that is prone to corruption, but disease prevention and health promotion. This was discussed during a roundtable at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

“The State Service for Food Safety and Customer Protection is performing the functions of the former SES, besides those relating to public health and disease prevention. This means that we continue to conduct scheduled and unscheduled inspections, under the court decision or upon request of individuals. However, we understand that the system should be changed, and we are working on it. The first step should be the improvement of the current system of control at the legislative level,” stressed Volodymyr Lapa, Head of the State Service for Food Safety and Customers Protection.

Asked who is responsible for frequent mass poisoning in Ukraine, Volodymyr Lapa said that responsibility must be held directly by the entity that provided poor-quality food product. However, the practice of bringing perpetrators to justice is quite rare in Ukraine, mostly because consumers do not defend their rights in the way prescribed by law. So, the next step should be a more active position of citizens in defending their right to safe sanitary-epidemiological environment.


Legal base for removing the SES 

In general, after liquidation of the SES some discrepancies have appeared because the necessary changes in the legislation, which are to ensure smooth hand over of its functions to the new executors, have not been introduced in time. “This has caused chaos that is filled with various regulating authorities,” commented Victor Lyashko, director of NGO “Infection Control in Ukraine,” member of the Ministry of Healthcare working group for development of new public health system.

These discrepancies can be settled by draft law No. 5134 “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on optimization of the system of central executive bodies in the field of sanitary and epidemiological welfare.” According to Oleksiy Kyrychenko, MP, on September 16, the draft law was submitted for consideration to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. This document will become an important step towards settling the work of the new executors of both the functions which previously were carried out by the SES and the functions in which the state was not actually engaged.

Giving an example of such functions, Nata Avaliani, director of USAID project “HIV Reform in Action,” informed about the Center for Public Health of Georgia. For example, based on the most topical scientific data the Center independently develops hygiene standards both for hospitals and for educational institutions – kindergartens, schools and others. These standards evoke trust in society, and all institutions seek to meet them.

To remind, in Ukraine, the epidemiological surveillance function as well as the property of the former SES, including laboratories, was passed to the Ministry of Healthcare. This has enabled the ministry to focus on public health issues. “86 per cent of deaths in Ukraine are caused by noninfectious diseases that should be prevented at the national level. This will be one of the objectives of the National Center for Public Health,” stressed Oksana Syvak, Deputy Minister of Healthcare of Ukraine.