The program “Treatment of Ukrainian citizens abroad” in the long term should be reduced to isolated cases, economist at the CASE Ukraine analytical center, author of a study on the implementation of the program and identification of more effective ways of state financing Natalia Leschenko has said.
“The program needs to be abandoned in the short term, but it requires tight budget constraints and prioritization of referrals for treatment (for example, referral to treatment of children, patients who have a high chance of returning to normal life). In the long term, the program needs to be reduced to isolated cases,” she said during a presentation of the study results on Tuesday.
Leschenko also said that it is necessary to introduce an assessment of the quality of such treatment.
“What would ideally like to see is an assessment of the patient’s health outcomes after treatment. The comparison of these results with the reference ones established on the basis of scientific research and clinical evaluations. This requirement is in the legislation of other countries that treatment abroad should be paid for at the state expense, only if this treatment is proven to be effective. Examples include readmission rates, mortality, complications,” she said.
“Our proposal is, in principle, not to increase funding for the program. The governments of most countries adhere to the principle of limited funding, that is, payment of a percentage of treatment or full payment to a limited number of people,” the expert said.
As reported, under the budget program “Treatment of Ukrainian citizens abroad” in 2020, UAH 1.089 billion is provided.
Hennadiy Chyzhykov has been reelected as President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI) for another five years. He gave his first interview after the appointment to his next tenure to the Interfax-Ukraine New Agency.
– What are your plans for the next tenure? Will you continue reforming the UCCI? What goals will you pursue?
– I believe that the better we understand our businesses, the better we can protect them. The Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is an organization based on trust, we aspire to become a voice of the small and medium-sized businesses. We create a comfortable communication platform on the basis of the UCCI, we help to find partners and get assistance during the entry to new markets, as well as promote the implementation of legal initiatives.
Our goals for the next five years are really ambitious, but the main thing is that our member community has expressed confidence and support for them. The main goals include support for small and medium-sized businesses, strengthening of cooperation with the authorities at all levels and influence on the state export policy, development of regional export centers, simplification of the use of arbitration instruments during protection of the interests of Ukrainian exporters, support for business digitalization.
However, our main aspiration is to make the UCCI even more comfortable for businesses, an organization within reach. So that at the thought of having a lack of some knowledge an entrepreneur could come to us at once knowing for sure that the UCCI is his or her organization which can help. We have a very strong team. We have 73 offices in Ukraine and 55 representative offices abroad, we are a member of the largest international business organizations (including Eurochambres, WCF, ICC and many others). Such a strong representation makes our organization influential. Thanks to an opportunity to unite our efforts we can find solutions to complicated problems, as well as build a system of communication with all parties involved.
Almost 90% of our members are small and medium-sized enterprises. Large enterprises are already able to find solutions for increasing export on their own, while smaller companies need the UCCI’s assistance. The entrepreneurs can see that the foreign market is very competitive, but they already start to understand that there is nothing scary there. A free trade area with the EU, as well as external trade in general drives and attracts Ukrainian businesses. Our strongest side is exactly external economic activity as we have a lot of experience in it. It would be fair to say that the UCCI today is the only organization which supports exporters at all stages of the production and movement of goods – from the moment of streamlining them with the technical regulations of certain markets to the receiving of payment for them. No other institution in Ukraine possesses the same instruments of assistance to exporters “under one roof.” The UCCI specialists know where certain products are in demand, what standards they should meet for admission to certain markets, how to check a customer’s paying capacity, and how to protect your rights if a foreign partner violates his or her obligations. For example, the export support centers at all Chambers of Commerce and Industry can answer the question “Where should we supply our products?” They also have information about technical regulations for the goods supplied to certain markets.
The UCCI is also an important arbitration instrument of support for businesses at both national and regional levels. If any disputes occur with foreign partners, the case may be considered at the commercial arbitration court in Kyiv – the decisions of the International Commercial Arbitration Court (ICAC) under the UCCI are valid in 110 countries of the world. We also see the future in mediation.
Some 70% of Ukraine’s export earnings is ensured by the member enterprises of the Chamber system. In a word, the UCCI builds its work in a consistent and serious manner with a long-term perspective.
– At all times the UCCI has been considered as a semipublic organization. Does it still remain the same?
– Not exactly. According to the legislation of Ukraine, chambers of commerce and industry are non-governmental non-for-profit self-regulated organizations. The Chamber carries out two functions: we protect the interests of businesses and, following the international practices, we provide a range of services important to businesses [in particular, issuing of ATA carnets, goods origin certificates, etc.].
At the same time, the chamber of commerce and industry cooperates with all agencies that have influence on business activities. We present ourselves as both local and global organization, we interact with the authorities at the national, regional and internationals levels.
Over 400 years of its existence the Chamber institution has proved its effectiveness. Many people don’t know that the first Chamber appeared in Ukraine 165 years ago. That is why we call ourselves an organization with a history and a clear vision of the future. In our activities we focus on business requests. We have an agenda that is formed by our members. We summarize their position, analyze the situation, voice their questions of interest and send this message to the government. As a representative of businesses we are an integral part of the processes that are going on in the country.
Despite the supposed independence of businesses from political processes, in fact the political process influences the volumes of trade and Ukrainian export. Therefore, we also present the interests of businesses at high-level international meetings, cooperate with the embassies, our experts are included to intergovernmental commissions.
– Today Ukraine and the whole world live in a new reality, including economics. What effect will the pandemic and the following inevitable economic recession have on Ukraine’s export potential in the global trade system?
– All signs point to the fact that export will face big challenges. As we can see, the pandemic is leading towards the protectionism, the closing economies. Economic crises always result into a drop in production.
Today businesses are facing a choice of a model on which the future of the country’s economy depends. There is an objective reality: a decline in sales on the majority of markets that are traditional for our goods export. However, new promising areas open. The demand for food will be growing in the world, and we should refocus our export from raw materials to end products. In the current situation it is hard to preserve export of products with a long value-added chain: farming equipment, power and transport engineering products.
The demand for Ukrainian goods is growing in the EU. We can see a huge potential in Central Asia, as well as Africa and on other continents. We are well aware that producers need government support, including a stronger credit policy and active cooperation on the foreign markets.
Generally speaking, much depends on the pace with which businesses and the country in general will realign their production with regard to the new reality. The faster they make decisions, the shorter will be the adaptation and revival period for the economy.
– Some experts say that there is a trend towards the withdrawal of the production facilities from the regions with unreliable epidemiological situation (China, Southeast Asia) to other countries. What measures should be taken in Ukraine to receive a part of these production facilities?
– I wouldn’t say so. The pandemic has demonstrated us that the virus knows no borders, nobody is insured against it. Here is another question. Everything depends on how fast Ukraine can develop an open and comfortable investment environment. First of all, it depends on our homework and the ability to create “an investment trend” for Ukraine. I should say that foreign businessmen have been taking interest in placing orders in Ukraine more actively during online talks in recent months.
In addition to the available advantages of Ukraine, we hope to obtain another one soon – the right to export industrial goods to the EU without additional certification. The preparations for the signature of the so-called “industrial visa-free regime” are underway. At the beginning of 2020, the UCCI has started preparing enterprises for the introduction of European certification. Before the quarantine, a series of seminars on the introduction of European technical regulations began.
As to the agreement, our experts continue the work on it jointly with their Ukrainian and European colleagues. A parallel process of revising quotas and duties on agricultural products in line with the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement is also in progress.
– Small and medium-sized businesses suffer from the pandemic and the quarantine first of all. What steps should the government take to support them? Is it taking such steps, and what is your organization’s part in this process?
– They talk a lot about losses of small and medium-sized businesses due to the pandemic. Why? It’s because around 60% of the population are involved in them. This problem exists not only in Ukraine, small and medium-sized businesses all over the world are suffering losses today. We can see that all countries, depending on their possibilities, have focused on the support for their entrepreneurs. The government of our country has also approved the support program, however, the economies are different, and therefore the scale of assistance also differs.
The UCCI works according to the rapid response principle. We put forward our proposals regarding the support for businesses at various stages of the development of the anti-crisis plan, and most of them were approved. We continue this work.
Our goal is to create equal conditions for businesses inside the country and maximum preferences for them abroad. We also see our specific task in opening new markets for small and medium-sized businesses. Despite the difficult situation, the borders are not closed!
We continue actively providing businesses with the consulting services. Last month alone the UCCI held almost 20 various remote webinars which brought together more than 1,000 participants. Those were forums, conferences, including international ones, with the participation of Ukrainian and foreign officials and businesspeople.
– What should we expect in Ukraine? What kind of trends will appear in the post-crisis world?
– We should move from the general to the specific. We say that Ukraine is a part of the global economy. One of the results of this pandemic, as we already see, will be the fact that many economies will close. Each economy will count on its own resources more and more, which means that there will be losses in trade, and we should be prepared for this.
In addition, the development of local goods and services will be prioritized, emphasis will be paid on customization. As I have said, a trend towards food products will prevail. Everyone has got tired of a negative pattern during the quarantine, so I hope we will also create a trend for positive thinking, solidarity and cooperation.
– What are we going to inherit from coronavirus and the crisis forever?
– The habits, which have been developed, like online trade, will remain. According to our polls, this is true, as it is really one of the ways to overcome the crisis. Export will remain important for our economy as it is one of the most important directions of growth and support for the economy. Small businesses will focus on online platforms as the majority of citizens have got used to them during this time.
– What should businesses do in this situation?
– We speak mainly about the economy without paying attention to fact that such crises, as we are witnessing now, significantly change the way of thinking and approaches. A person takes the center stage.
The entrepreneurs have realized that it is hard to work without mutual trust. A customer-oriented approach is one of our future trends. I think during the economic crisis we will become even more aware of the role of small businesses as a basis for creating jobs and self-fulfillment of each person.
Ukraine is approaching the moment when businesses will have more mutual trust, develop joint projects, and this will help both small and medium-sized businesses to survive. So, the reverse side of our problems will be changes in us, the Ukrainians. And the role of small businesses will become even more important.
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine has created a separate unit, whose task will be the transplantation and treatment of Ukrainian patients abroad, the press service of the Ministry of Health reported on the Telegram channel.
“I want the number of Ukrainian patients who are being treated abroad to constantly decrease. I want them to be treated in Ukraine, to develop transplantation in Ukraine. We have everything for this. The main thing is that we have specialists who can transplant. We just need to create a certain system that would allow this to be done in Ukraine. We are doing this now,” Minister of Health Maksym Stepanov said at a daily briefing.
It will become possible to resume treatment of Ukrainians abroad as soon as non-emergency care clinics open. All patients receive healthcare services at specialized clinics in Ukraine, Deputy Health Minister of Ukraine Iryna Mykychak told a press briefing in Kyiv on Thursday.
“There are patients who require medical services that are not available in Ukraine. This is, first of all, bone marrow transplant. The national budget provides for funds for treatment of such patients in foreign clinics. A standing commission, which makes decisions on referrals to treatment, is working. Currently foreign clinics are closed for non-emergency patients. As soon as they open, patients will be able to receive aid. Today they receive healthcare services at specialized clinics in Ukraine,” she said.
The Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine has announced the resumption of a number of special flights to the country from around the world so that Ukrainians abroad can return to their homeland, the press service of the ministry said on Sunday, citing its head Vladyslav Krykliy. “There is good news for Ukrainians who are now abroad and want to return home. We resume special flights to Ukraine from around the world, but only subject to mandatory observation within 14 days after returning to specialized institutions or at home, observing the self-isolation regime. The control over the latter will be carried out using the “Diy at home” application on the “Diia” platform, the press service quoted Krykliy.
The flights are planned from the following cities: Miami, Helsinki, Naples, Stockholm, Yerevan, Paris, Nice, Sofia, Larnaca, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Zurich, Lisbon, Geneva, Dubai, Frankfurt, Prague, Milan, Toronto, Oslo, Alicante, Riyadh, Bangkok, Phuket, Bali.
Information about flights will be posted on the websites of UIA, SkyUp Airlines, Windrose Airlines and Azur Air Ukraine.
Ukrainian citizens preferred receiving treatment for oncology and cardiac diseases abroad in 2019, just as a year earlier. Foreign specialists point at poor quality of medical documents which patients bring from the post-Soviet countries.
International medical tourism operators voiced such conclusions to Interfax-Ukraine after having analyzed the medical tourist flow to foreign clinics.
According to the Ukrainian Association of Medical Tourism (UAMT), around 160,000 patients left Ukraine for treatment in 2018. Germany, Israel and Turkey were the most popular destinations for medical tourism from Ukraine. During the same time, around 65,000 foreign patients came for treatment to Ukrainian clinics.
Director of the medical tourism agency DeutschMedic GmbH Anna Weegen (Essen, Germany) said that in 2019 almost a half of foreign patients of German clinics were diagnosed with cancer: breast cancer took the lead, esophagus, stomach and colorectal cancer ranked second, lung cancer ranked third. Around one third of foreign patients addressed German clinics for treatment of cardiac diseases and for replacement of arthroplasty.
“High-technology operations are in demand, including robot-assisted surgery and combined therapy for life-threatening diseases,” she said.
Weegen praised the visa-free regime which allows patients to receive medical aid in Germany promptly.
“That is what helped us in 2019 rapidly provide some patients with serious diseases with aid and organize transportation of their relatives,” she said.
Weegen also said that in general the cost of healthcare services in Germany for foreign patients did not change in 2019 for both check-ups and in-patient treatment as it is regulated in Germany in line with the DRG (Diagnosis Related Group) system.
At the same time, an increase in the cost of some kinds of treatment in Germany was caused by the active introduction of new expensive medicines, in particular drugs for targeted therapy for oncology diseases or materials for minimally invasive heart valve surgeries.
Weegen added that in 2019 German clinics and medical tourism operators still received poor quality medical documents from patients.
“We often receive odd handwritten medical reports and poor quality medical images,” she said.
In turn, expert for organization of treatment in Germany Dmitry Ladizhenski (Berlin) also said that the cost of treatment for foreign patients “have been remaining mainly at the same level for many years despite the fact that the price list based on the DRG is regularly updated.” The DRG pricing system significantly facilitates the healthcare budgeting and mutual payments between the government, insurance companies and hospitals.
Ladizhenski also said that the number of patients from Ukraine has increased, which is related, first of all, to the cancelation of visas between the EU and Ukraine.
“Up to 80% are oncology patients,” he said.
In turn, Director General of the foundation Proturmed Mariusz Arent (Gdansk, Poland) said that the number of Ukrainian patients in Polish clinics tripled, to around 10,000 people, in 2019. However, this became possible mainly due to an increase in the number of Ukrainian migrants in Poland.
Arent noted that, according to the Institute of Research and Development of Medical Tourism (Poland), the total number of medical tourists in Poland was around 182,000 people in 2018. He added that Ukrainian patients travel to Poland for treatment of oncology, orthopedic surgery, cardiac diseases and rehabilitation after injuries.
According to Arent, the cost of treatment in Poland for foreign patients did not change in 2019, although in general prices in Polish private clinics usually exceed Ukrainians’ budgets.
Board Member of the Lublin Medicine Cluster Management Marzena Strok-Sadło (Poland) reported that, in 2018 only, 15 providers of medical services (12 private clinics and three state hospitals in Lublin) received 5,787 foreign patients, the majority of whom arrived from the UK and Ukraine.
She added that foreign patients traveled to Lublin mainly for treatment of gynecology, oncology, orthopedic, ophthalmology diseases and for obstetric care. In addition, Polish stomatology, rehabilitation, aesthetic medicine and plastic surgery services are popular among foreign patients. Ukrainians also often visit SPA resorts in Poland. As to the price policy, the expert said that the cost of medical services in Poland rose by 5-6% in 2019.
In turn, Board Chairman of the Turkish Association of Medical Tourism Emin Çakmak (Turkey) said that in general Turkey receives around $10 billion from medical tourists from 165 countries. Around 1 million foreign medical tourists annually visit Turkey, around 45,000 of them were Ukrainians in 2019. The number of Ukrainian patients in Turkey annually grows by 10-15%. The majority of Ukrainian patients travel to Turkey for treatment of oncology diseases and for pediatric rehabilitation.
“Turkey is becoming the most preferred destination for Ukrainian medical tourists. Turkish clinics actively organize their work for this growing flow, for example many hospitals hire Ukrainian citizens who help Ukrainian patients to communicate with Turkish doctors,” he said.