Parliament to support health reform next week - deputy health minister

 The Verkhovna Rada will support health care reform proposed by the government next week, Ukrainian Deputy Health Minister Pavlo Kovtoniuk has said.

"Over the past year we not only conducted an active media campaign in the media, but also made many trips in the regions. We worked with parliament, with all factions, with individual deputies, and I personally had dozens of meetings with MPs. I want to say that I feel there is support for our reform in the [session] hall, and that next week, when the time comes to decide, this support will be seen in the Verkhovna Rada," he said at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Friday.

Kovtoniuk noted that the issue concerned changes in the health care system laid down in bills Nos. 6327 and 6604, and also the draft law on rural medicine, No. 7117.

"When you explain the essence of changes, people start supporting reform," he said.

Head of the Analytics Department at SOCIS Oleksandr Chashkovsky, in turn, said, while presenting the results of a nationwide survey of the attitude of Ukrainians to the health reform conducted by SOCIS, that 89% of Ukrainians expected radical changes in the health care system. At the same time, 68% of respondents expressed their support for changes in the villages and 65% in towns and cities.

"This result says that in rural areas people have much worse access to medicine than in the cities," the expert said.

He also said that according to the poll, 80% of those polled were not satisfied with the state of medicine.

Kovtoniuk noted that 36% of respondents fully paid for medical services in state and municipal medical institutions, 45% of respondents said they paid partly for these services, and 11% of respondents used private clinics.

"Only 7% of Ukrainians said they received completely free medical services," he said.

Chashkovsky also said that when asked what should be funded from the budget, only 40% of respondents said that the state should pay to medical institutions and 55% of respondents believe that medical services should be paid from the budget.

At the same time, he noted that 31% of respondents support medical reform, 33% support it partially, 28% do not support the proposed reform, and 8% refused to answer.

Commenting on these figures, Head of the Public Council under the Health Ministry of Ukraine Lesia Lytvynova noted that "people are afraid of changes that they do not understand."

"Few people understand the essence of the reform, and this is a big problem. Therefore, they can be moved in one direction or another and told that another, more balanced reform could later be adopted instead of this one. The only thing you can say for sure is that we cannot like this any longer. I really hope that the Verkhovna Rada will finally remember its direct duties," she said.