Health Care Development in Rural Areas: the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Took the Presidential Draft Law as a Basis  

The Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine took as a basis the draft law (No. 7117) on the improvement of accessibility and quality of health care services in rural areas. The document was submitted to the Parliament and determined as urgent by the President of Ukraine. It is aimed at the improvement of primary care in villages and the quality and accessibility of medical services.

Representative of the President of Ukraine at the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Lutsenko, during the presentation of the draft law, noted that, among other things, the project objective was to bring health care services closer to the maximum extent possible to the patient in rural areas, ensure that health care institutions are properly provided with modern equipment, determine additional incentives for the engagement of health care professionals in rural areas.

"The draft law provides for the establishment of telemetry networks which will offer an opportunity to use such tools of telemedicine as telemedic counselling, telemedic consultation, telemetry, home counselling services. Those tools will allow using electronic diagnostics and treatment by telecommunication means", Iryna Lutsenko noted.

Chairwoman of the Health Care Committee Olha Bohomolets explained the importance of telemedicine for people living in rural areas.

"What does the telemedicine mean? Many people think that it is a physician sitting in front of a TV set and watching a patient. In fact, it's not the case. When telecommunication networks are laid in villages where 13 million people are currently living, in medical and obstetrical stations, the ambulance station having no physician and where there is a nurse or paramedic, such nurse or paramedic will be able to send an electrocardiogram to a distant physician or clinical professor through the Internet. Thus, professional, high-quality, and accessible health care will reach each remote village. It would be possible to digitize and send remotely not only an electrocardiogram, it may be any tests, and even ultrasound diagnosis may be read and analysed remotely. The telemedicine is a tool. It does not guarantee the high quality of health care, but it offers an opportunity to provide comprehensive care", the Chairwoman of the Committee explained.

Earlier, Pavlo Kovtoniuk, Deputy Minister of Health, in his interview for the "Decentralisation" web-site, told about three steps required to improve the quality of health care services in rural areas.

"Firstly, to engage a qualified physician to work in the village. Secondly, offer a fair wage and proper working conditions to that physician: appropriate consulting room, modern medical equipment, a company car, etc. Thirdly, it is required to ensure proper conditions of life. I mean housing and amenities for his/ her family. Because, as a rule, young physicians who already have or will have a family and children will go to the village. Somebody has to finance the formation of infrastructure, laying of the Internet, procurement of a company car for the physician, etc. Exactly, the presidential draft law deals with that problem".

It is a reminder that the Government has allocated UAH 4 billion in the state budget for the development of rural health care.

Hennadii Zubko, Vice-Prime Minister - Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine said earlier that the Ministry of Regional Development analysed the existing primary care network.

"Today, there are 4,000 ambulance stations and 12,700 medical and obstetrical stations in about 23 thousand villages and towns. However, their condition is startling, it is frightful. Only 28 % of those institutions have a water supply system, where the third part of it comprises shallow wells. Only 18 % have sanitary facilities! The primary care in the rural areas should be reformed as soon as possible, the quality of health care service should become closer to the individual and be much higher. That is the objective of the "Accessible, Qualitative Rural Health Care" initiative, on the implementation of which we have started to work", Hennadii Zubko emphasised.

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H.Zubko healthcare P.Kovtonyuk

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