For Immediate Release

New Interagency Working Group is Established to Expand Access to Telemedicine in Ukraine

Date

Sections
Image
Image
Woman with computer
Text

 

For several years, Ukraine has prioritized telemedicine as part of its comprehensive health reform to increase transparency of health service provision, expand access to quality health services, and enhance efficiency in the health sector. However, efforts to expand telemedicine in Ukraine have remained fragmented, as roles and responsibilities for governance have not been well-defined, and private sector initiatives have not been integrated into the broader system.  

With Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022, and subsequent war, the need for a national telemedicine platform has never been more urgent. Many doctors have already fled the country and Russian forces continue to attack Ukraine’s health care facilities. Due to safety risks, Ukrainians are discouraged from traveling from rural areas to larger cities to seek medical help.

To address these challenges and strengthen the health system by sustainably, systematically increasing use of telemedicine, the Local Health System Sustainability Project (LHSS) in Ukraine supported the Ministry of Health to create the country’s first interagency working group focused on expanding access to telemedicine. This activity is in line with LHSS Ukraine’s objective to advance equitable and sustainable access to health services using telemedicine.

In February 2022, the Ministry of Health issued a decree signaling national support for strengthening the governance and accessibility of telemedicine services. The working group was created to establish a national telemedicine platform – an undertaking that will require several steps including analyzing the status of telemedicine implementation in Ukraine; developing recommendations on organizational and technical solutions for telemedicine implementation; and convening state authorities to agree on priorities and improve policies on telemedicine development.

LHSS supports the Ministry of Health by facilitating working group meetings and engaging members which include representatives from the Ministry of Health, National Health Service of Ukraine, eHealth State Owned Enterprise, World Bank, USAID, academia, private and non-profit sectors, patient groups, and health facility managers.   

The working group will develop a telemedicine concept note and implementation plan to roll out a national telemedicine network between 2023 and 2025. This will help create a shared vision for telemedicine development in Ukraine, identifying operational barriers and recommendations to address them.

Additional subgroups focus on telemedicine governance and financing, telemedicine technologies and architecture, and clinical application of telemedicine services. To ensure transparent and inclusive process of strategy and policy development, representatives from the public sector, development partners, civil society organizations, and private sector actors have been invited and actively participate in the subgroups along with the interagency working group members.

Telemedicine has become a critical tool in maintaining access to health services during the war. By providing a structure to organize, govern, channel private sector engagement, and foster the expansion of access to quality care through telemedicine, the formation of the interagency working group is a major development in making healthcare services more accessible to the people of Ukraine.