Ulyana Suprun on possible shift from training Ukrainian troops to reforming healthcare system
The ministry without a minister – notoriously corrupt healthcare ministry of Ukraine still does not have its leader.
Meanwhile President Poroshenko has offered a job of deputy healthcare minister to Ulyana Suprun – American-born Ukrainian, director of Patriot Defence initiative, which has provided tactical medicine trainings to more than 25,000 Ukrainian troops.
Our correspondent Volodymyr Solohub discusses the challenges ahead with Ulyana Suprun.
"We all know that there is a problem in the ministry of health. Healthcare is not at the same level, at the same standard that it is in the rest of Europe. The Ukrainian nation is decreasing in size. Every year more people die than are born. And soon the Ukrainian nation will have 35 million people. In 2050 the projected amount is lower than in 1950. And that's a really big problem. What's happening? There aren't enough doctors in Ukraine? There's more doctors per capita in Ukraine than in Europe. There aren't enough hospitals? There's more hospitals per capita, than in the rest of Europe. The problem is the manner in which the healthcare services are being provided to the patients, quality of care is not very high on the priorities on the way medicine is delivered. In most civilized countries – the patient is in the center of care, the patient is important and the financing of the system is built around the needs of the patient. In Ukraine, unfortunately, it's the old soviet system, the system exists for the sake of the system and not for the sake of the patient.
Very obvious change that needs to be done is the change in financing. That'll be a long-term change, it will take a long time to change that type of system. But there's some quick fixes that we need to do right away. That's in the emergency medical system. In the military medical system. Those are already changing and they are already improving. Ukrainians don't have a primary care doctor. So improving and increasing the primary care specialists – 63% of the doctors in Ukraine are already primary care specialists, they're just not being utilized effectively. So changing that system and then allowing doctors to work in that system, where they receive an adequate amount of pay, where they are able to practice quality medicine, because the conditions around them allow them to, and also on the side the doctors continuing medical education, improving medical education of physicians and other medical workers, introducing the new professions that don't exist in Ukraine. We've already introduced physical therapist and occupational therapist as new professions. We're planning on introducing emergency medical technicians, paramedics – a new specialty in medicine.
It's really important to communicate with the Ukrainian people. Much of the ministry of health is closed off. Most people do not know what's going on behind those closed doors and there hasn't been a good explanation on what the changes would be. What the system will look like in the future if these changes come about. And I think that one of the really big issues that happen here is the communication. When I spoke with the prime-minister, when I spoke with the President – both told me that it's very important to include the Ukrainian people in the decision-making process. And to make sure that they are aware of these changes will be.
We started with combat life-saver courses, which is basic first aid for soldiers and we advanced the courses to teach combat medics and military doctors. We've now started the same programs thought patriot defence in the civilian sector. We teach fist aide courses, we're starting to teach courses in EMT and paramedicine and we're also already teaching, fourth time already, civilian doctors on how to give trauma care. So the same experience that you have in the military you can very easily transform into civilian experience. That's usually the way things happen in most countries. In the United States tactical combat casualty care guidelines, which are now followed by all fire, police, and paramedics, had been developed by the military. As we know the military can do advances in medicine, as well as advances in other fields much more quickly, because of the needs that are present during war time."