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Business met with Maksym Stepanov, Minister of Health of Ukraine

23/ 09/ 2020

Yesterday, the European Business Association met with Maksym Stepanov, Minister of Health of Ukraine. During the meeting, we discussed issues related to the reform of the health care system of Ukraine, as well as the main changes in the regulation of medicines and clinical trials.

Thus, Mr. Stepanov specified key components for the successful implementation of health care reforms. First, the system needs to be adequately funded. The Ministry made relevant calculations which include the established tariffs for medical services and salaries of medical workers. Based on those calculations, the Ministry of Health submitted a request of UAH 225 billion to the draft State Budget for 2021. Second, common standards for health care, national protocols, and quality criteria are expected to be developed by the end of 2021. Based on these quality criteria, the necessary funding for public health programs, including the Medical Guarantee Package, will be calculated. Third, it is necessary to train highly qualified medical professionals who meet international standards. There are currently tens of thousands of doctors who are at retirement age in Ukraine, while young specialists prefer to go abroad en masse. Therefore, it is extremely important to reform higher education systems in the field of health care.

The digital transformation is also a priority for the Ministry. It is expected that by the end of 2022, the national health care system will be fully transferred into electronic format. These include the online sale of medicines and the issuance of electronic prescriptions. According to Mr. Stepanov, the legal framework for the regulation of distance sale of medicines will be developed based on the relevant directives of the European Union which have a strong emphasis on safety issues. The electronic prescription system will also be gradually implemented. In 2021, it will be possible to obtain e-prescriptions for insulin, immunosuppressive, and narcotic drugs, and in 2022, antibiotics will be added to this list.

Particular attention was paid to the medical procurement program. The final nomenclature of medicines for procurement will be formed after all regions submit their requests on October 1, 2020. Procurement of medicines will be carried out in part through the international organizations Crown Agency and UNDP, which won the tender this year. Regarding the prospects of the program development, Mr. Stepanov noted that the program budget for 2021 will be 5-6 billion hryvnias, which is twice the amount allocated this year. There are also plans to expand the network of pharmacies participating in the reimbursement program.

Businesses have raised many questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Ukraine’s health care system. According to the Minister, negotiations are underway with leading developers of the coronavirus vaccine. Also, as a participant in the COVAX initiative, Ukraine is eligible to receive 8 million doses of vaccines. Vaccination at the expense of the state will be available primarily to people at high risk. This category amounts to approximately 1.5 million people, including health workers and education workers. Besides, the Ministry of Health cooperates with the Ministry of Digital Transformation and other authorities to monitor the public compliance with the self-isolation regime.

During the discussion, it was mentioned that international experts, namely the EBRD, are involved in the development of amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Medicines”. A new version of the amendments to the Law will also be sent to the EBA representatives for the business to review and submit its proposals. According to Mr. Stepanov, the Ministry is interested in public-private partnerships in the field of medicine. According to him, the establishment of a legal framework for the implementation of such projects will be an important step to attract private capital to upgrade the national health infrastructure.

According to the Minister, a new procedure for conducting clinical trials is being developed, as well as harmonization of Ukrainian legislation with European practices in the field of 2D labeling of drugs, etc.

It should be noted that health care reform is a complex and multi-component process that requires a concerted effort and respect for each other’s positions. So, the European Business Association thanks Mr. Stepanov for his readiness for a professional and meaningful dialogue with the business and we hope for further cooperation!

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