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EuropeUkraine working towards universal health coverage while responding to COVID-19

Ukraine working towards universal health coverage while responding to COVID-19

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Ukraine is transforming its health system so that people can get the quality health-care services they need without experiencing financial hardship.

Andrii, a 25-year-old doctor living in the city of Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine began to feel unwell. It was in March 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak had started in the country. Armed with medical knowledge, he immediately self-isolated from his wife and other family members. As his symptoms worsened, he called an ambulance, and eventually tested positive for COVID-19 while in hospital.

“While I was in hospital, testing and examinations were free of charge, but I had to find and buy my own medicines. I am very grateful to the anaesthesiologists of Khmelnytskyi region and other colleagues, who helped me find and buy medicines while my family members were in 14-day isolation. Since then, the availability of medicines in hospitals has improved and medicines are now provided to patients free of charge,” said Andrii.

The transformation of health services to ensure that patients can be tested and treated for COVID-19 free of charge is just one of the many positive steps the Ukraine government has taken. It demonstrates the government’s commitment to universal health coverage (UHC), ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone can access the health care they need without experiencing financial hardship.

This commitment to UHC has been evident since 2015, when the government initiated the reform of its health system to improve the population’s health and ensure financial protection from out-of-pocket payments. The reform aims to increase efficiency, modernize an obsolete service delivery system and improve access to better quality of care.

WHO, through the UHC Partnership, has been walking hand in hand with the government since the very first steps on this road. It provided continued and consistent technical support on health financing and service delivery with a strong focus on strengthening primary care – working closely with national and international stakeholders throughout election cycles and changes in the government. The Partnership, which assists 115 countries in accelerating progress to achieve UHC, is funded by the European Union, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Irish Aid, the Government of Japan, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the Government of Belgium.

COVID-19 in Ukraine

Ukraine recorded its first case of COVID-19 on 3 March 2020. By the end of August, there had been more than 108 000 confirmed cases and over 2000 people had lost their lives. From the start of the outbreak, WHO has continued to support the Ministry of Health to further develop three key areas of its health system: health financing, service delivery and governance. This strengthens both the emergency COVID-19 response and progress towards UHC.

UHC means health for all

As the world is confronted with one of the most devastating health crises in history, Ukraine’s experience demonstrates the value of reforming health financing, service delivery and governance; the key areas that set the foundations of health systems in all countries. In both ordinary and extraordinary times, UHC principles are at the core of keeping all communities healthy, safe and productive.

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