Although some progress has been made, the overall health of Ukraine's population continues to be a cause of concern. On average, Ukrainians live eleven years less than other Europeans. This is partly due to a health system which is failing to function and is in need of far-reaching structural change. A start had been made on a major process of reform but this was halted by the conflict which erupted in the east of the country in 2014. However, the new government seems determined to continue the reform process. A sign of this renewed determination is the National Health Reform Strategy for Ukraine, finalised in February 2015.
A complete overhaul of the health sector represents a huge challenge for the Ukrainian health ministry. It also provides a unique opportunity to make strategic decisions to bring the health system more in line with the population's needs, thus helping to improve population health in general. This is why Switzerland has decided to support Ukraine's health authorities in their efforts. The programme is endeavouring to highlight the need to develop primary healthcare services and the prevention of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
More effective coordination
This project aims to strengthen the health ministry's ability to develop and implement reform so that the whole population has easier access to quality healthcare. To this end, healthcare management training programmes will be organised.
The health ministry will also need to ensure effective coordination between the different parties involved in the reform of the healthcare system. In order to do this, the project will help to set up a national platform for political dialogue. This structure will allow all participants to coordinate their efforts and to develop synergies for improved concerted action. Collaboration on this platform will involve not only national, regional and local health authorities, and a coalition of donors including Switzerland, but also members of civil society.
Public policies adapted to needs
The project also focuses more directly on the content of the reforms and aims to ensure that the health ministry has the relevant information to make decisions. In order to put into effect public policy suited to the real needs of the population, these needs first have to be known. The SDC will therefore support several initiatives and studies aimed at the collection of data on population health; for example, how high is the prevalence of diabetes in a specific group of the population? Which population groups are most affected by certain illnesses? How does the population behave regarding tobacco consumption and diet?
On the basis of this data, recommendations will be made to the health ministry as to which action should be taken. This information will also provide a basis for the health ministry to identify priority areas for reform.