United Nations and WHO in Ukraine presented the UN Policy Paper on Universal Health Coverage
- UN and WHO in Ukraine, together with representatives of Verkhovna Rada, Ministry of Health and patients’ organizations, launched a document which outlined the joint position of all UN agencies in Ukraine, vision and recommendations on achieving universal health coverage in Ukraine.
In 2020 the United Nations in Ukraine has developed a series of the UN Policy Papers - analytical documents created jointly by all 16 UN agencies, funds and programs in Ukraine, with the aim to identify policy and priority issues that hinder or pose a risk to sustainable development in Ukraine; and which correspond to contemporary Ukrainian reform priorities (i.e., land reform, social protection, labour legislation reform, health reform etc.).
Health is a fundamental human right, and Universal Health Coverage is its principal expression.
Universal Health Coverage fulfils the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. It means that all people and communities have access to the health services they need and without suffering financial hardship, and that these services are of such quality that they are effective. COVID-19 has vividly demonstrated to all the humanity the importance of a modern health system, to respond effectively to health crises and pandemics, to provide citizens with the health services they need, and to promote critical development goals.
In response to this need the UN Policy Paper on Universal Health Coverage has been developed by the UN Agencies, based on a global best practices, as a set of positions and recommendations, targeting government officials, medical workers, development partners, civil society organizations and wide public in Ukraine.
Speaking on the official launch of the policy paper, WHO Representative, Dr. Jarno Habicht noted:
“Ukraine has made bold steps towards universal health coverage, however there is still much to be done to ensure better health for everyone in Ukraine. The new United Nations Policy Paper on Universal Health Coverage allows us to evaluate progress and provides policy considerations for the future to ensure that all Ukrainians have access to good quality health services and no Ukrainian will have to experience catastrophic health expenditures or become poor when they use health services,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine.
UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, Ms. Osnat Lubrani said that health has been and is staying very high on the agenda of United Nations agencies and international partners in Ukraine.
In particular, she highlighted that all reforms that currently take place in Ukraine, must be gender-sensitive and inclusive, especially of the most vulnerable and marginalized.
“And above all, despite COVID-19, the Government must prioritize the health sector, it must safeguard and reinvest efficiency gains towards health service improvements, and it must provide a stable and predictable mid-term budget that at the very least maintains current levels of per capita health spending in real term”. – Osnat Lubrani stressed. – “As the UN Resident Coordinator, I wanted to say once again that achieving Universal health coverage is everyone’s business and everyone has its part. The COVID pandemic has demonstrated that the stronger the health system, health financing service delivery, the easier it is to respond to COVID. After the outbreak working on strengthening of health systems and UHC will become even more crucial as it prepares us for the next potential outbreaks”.
Mykhailo Radutskyi, Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Public Health, Medical Assistance and Medical Insurance outlined the challenges and successes in transformation of medical system in Ukraine:
“The basic step for the implementation of universal coverage for the population of Ukraine was the laws adopted by the Parliament on the autonomy of health care facilities and state financial guarantees in 2017. Now we can say that thanks to these two laws adopted on the primary healthcare, 33 million of our citizens use the services of family doctors. We started the second stage [of healthcare reform] last year, but not everything is going as smoothly as we would like, and there are four reasons for that. The first challenge - and we are not unique here, as the whole world community is facing it - is the COVID-19 pandemic. The second problem is the economic crisis, due to which we cannot fully finance the package of medical guarantees. The third reason is the mixed perception of changes in the health care system, both among some doctors, and among patients. The very high level of corruption in the medical system is also a problem. However, one of the great achievements during the reforming process, in particular, thanks to our international partners, is the establishment of a state-owned enterprise for medical procurement. This is very important, especially now, while we are waiting for COVID-19 vaccine”.
Igor Ivashchenko, Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine:
"Ukraine has recently faced two challenges - the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of health care reform [stage 2]. And in this regard Ukraine's greatest achievement was that the start of the reform was not postponed. The reform has significantly changed all aspects of health care coverage and delivery, including the financing system, the e-health system, referrals to doctors, the involvement of private clinics in the reform, the expansion of the reimbursement program, and the change in the medical procurement system itself. In fact, in addition to changing the funding system, the reform has maximally expanded the full range of mechanisms by which healthcare facilities work with the National Healthcare Service and the Ministry of Health.”
The UN Policy Paper on UHC outlines the main recommendations to achieve universal health coverage in Ukraine, in particular, modernization of hospital care at secondary and tertiary level, the restructuring of Ukraine’s outdated hospital network, the continued development of primary health care and the broadening of access to priority medicines.
As noted in the UN Policy Paper on UHC, the Government must continue to provide leadership and clear direction, and it must support and defend difficult reform decisions.