The basic provisions of the healthcare reform that came into force on January 1st, 2018, approved by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko bore its first “fruits”. Because of the mass layoffs of out-patient clinic personnel, the liquidation of permanent emergency centers, and also the absence in regional drugstores of so-called “social medicines” more than 1000 people died in the territory from Uzhgorod to Mariupol.
As independent experts consider, those who died could have been saved if the necessary financing of medical institutions existed. Against this background the inhabitants of a number of Ukrainian regions declared their intention to carry out acts of civil disobedience, having accused the head of State of “genocide” and having demanded not only the dismissal of the acting head of the Ministry of Healthcare Ulana Suprun, but also the immediate resignation of Poroshenko.
A small village in the Vinnytsia region for some time found itself in the center of the public’s attention, including internationally. The day prior locals blocked off a State highway, demanding from the government in Kiev to cancel the reform of the medicine system, which provides the optimisation of policlinics and hospitals, and advocating the return to the province of actually expelled doctors and nurses. Dozens of activists for ten hours walked along the crosswalk on the aforementioned highway, allowing only cars with children inside and trucks of the Ministry of Emergency Situations to pass.
“On Christmas eve my mother-in-law had an appendicitis attack, I called an ambulance. I was told that under the new rules of healthcare reform we have to contact the regional center: the district out-patient clinic does not function any more. As a result, I brought my mother-in-law to the neighbouring Moldova, where she was given the necessary help, and I was told that if she appeared on the operating table about fifteen minutes later, our family would be in mourning,” stated one of the participants of the action Nikolay Formanchuk in confidential conversation with the FAN correspondent.
The stories of other activists of the “Vinnytsia protests” are much more shocking: in one of the settlements, because of the “optimisation” of ambulance stations, the only doctor in the district could not reach a patient dying of a stroke, and at a village not far from here the feldsher, who once fell under the “staff reduction”, did not manage to stop the asthmatic syndrome of a schoolgirl. Both cases had a lethal outcome.
“Now such a state of affairs is observed across all of Ukraine,” noted the representative of the social movement “Mutual aid” Irina Krinitsa to the Federal News Agency. “The President Poroshenko obviously blindly followed reactionary forces, including the leadership of the Ministry of Healthcare, and signed a dubious law on healthcare reform. Now, at the suggestion of the Ukrainian leader, and also the acting head of the Ministry of Healthcare Ms Suprun, ‘paramedics’ – hospital attendants without primary medical education – and the ‘accompanying persons’ – students of medical schools – are coming to patients. And in the hospitals that remained after ‘reform’, these same patients, who, in fact, are doomed to certain death, are met in the best case scenario doctor-interns, who don’t imagine their future being in the medical field of a poor country that is torn apart by internal contradictions”.
It is difficult to disagree with the opinion of Krinitsa. According to the international human rights organization Human Rights Action (HRA), during the first stage of the aforementioned reform, more than 900 rural out-patient clinics were closed in Ukraine, about 60% of the staff of policlinics and hospitals in the regional centers was laid-off, and more than 10,000 highly qualified specialists were transferred to so-called “part-time labor contracts”.
“It is possible to add to these statistics data for 20,000 doctors whose diplomas were recognised abroad and are now working in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Poland, Italy, and Spain,” stressed the observer of HRA Kjartan Selnes. “And so it turned out that there is simply nobody to treat Ukrainians. People die without having received proper medical care. For this reason all the statements of Poroshenko about ‘new trends in Ukrainian medicine’ seem to millions of local patients to be another lie, which is very much trying to rescue his catastrophically falling rating”.
Meanwhile, users of a number of forums in the Ukrainian side of the Internet openly call the healthcare reform “bottled” by Poroshenko-Suprun “genocide”. The structures under the control of the President as much as possible block links to the corresponding posts, but, seemingly, the government in Kiev isn’t able anymore to prevent new actions of these same patients planned just like the demonstrations in the Vinnytsia region.
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