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.
In 2018, a budget of Ukrainian state financed 163 transplantations of organs abroad and 110 transplantations of bone marrow performed to the Ukrainian patients.
This data was presented by Oksana Dmytriyeva, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Transplantation and Modern Medical Technologies of the Parliamentary Committee on National Health, Medical Care and Health Insurance during a roundtable on October 8.
She said that UAH 600 million were allocated for such kind of operations in 2018.
“If the transplant system in Ukraine worked in a proper way, several thousands people could be treated for these means,” she said.
According to Dmytriyeva, nearly 5,000 persons annually seek for transplantation of organs for health reasons, however just 130 transplantations are performed in a year. Though, Ukraine is one of the last in Europe according to death donorship.
For her part, Health Minister Zoryana Skaletska said that it was a necessity in additional financing of the patients, who long for transplantation abroad since the funds provided for 2019 have already been spent.
Besides, Skaletska said that there was a need for more efficient use of public resources, including through the development of domestic transplantology.
As head of the bone marrow transplantation and intensive chemotherapy and immunotherapy department at the Okhmatdyt hospital, Oleksandr Lysytsia reported, today bone marrow transplantation from an unrelated donor was carried out only abroad. At the same time, performing of such operations in Ukraine would make it possible to reduce their cost by more than 30%.
As reported, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in its program determined setting of the conditions for the development of transplantation in the country as one of the priority tasks, which would allow at least 30% of Ukrainian patients, who had previously received transplantation services abroad, to receive them at home.
The state budget of 2019 raised UAH 689.9 million for the program “Treatment of Ukrainian Citizens Abroad”, of which UAH 608 million has already been allocated for treatment.
The volume of money transfers to Ukraine using international money transfer systems in January-June 2019 exceeded the amount of funds sent abroad by 6.5 times. According to the website of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), the share of transfers to Ukraine from the United States was 15%, from Israel 8%, from Russia 9%, from Italy 14%, from Poland 11%, from other countries (202 countries) some 43%.
In the first half of 2019, the volume of remittances using money transfer systems created by both residents and non-residents was as follows: to Ukraine some $1.099 billion in equivalent (23.23% of the total amount of transfers), outside Ukraine some $168 million in equivalent (3.54% of the total amount of transfers), within Ukraine some UAH 93.28 billion, or equivalent of $3.465 billion (73.23% of the total amount of transfers).
This data does not include information on transfers made through banks, card payment systems and post offices.
The volume of domestic transfers through money transfer systems in the first half of 2019 increased by 33.5% compared to the same period of 2018.
The predominant amount of domestic transfers (90%) is implemented by systems created by non-banking institutions.
Almost 68.2% of domestic transfers accounted for two systems of money transfers: Forpost (Post Finance LLC) and Mail Transfer (Poshtovy Perevod, Ukrposhta).
The amount of money transfers to Ukraine using international payment systems in 2018 was eight times more than the sum of money sent from Ukraine.
According to a posting on the website of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU), the share of transfers in money transfer systems to Ukraine was 17% from the United States, 13% from Israel, 9% from Russia, 8% from Italy, 7% from Poland, and 46% from other countries (221 countries).
In 2018, both residents and nonresidents used money transfer systems to transact the following transfers: $2.301 billion in equivalent to Ukraine (28.28% of total transfers); $294 million in equivalent abroad (3.61% of total transfers) and UAH 150.53 billion or $5.541 billion in equivalent within Ukraine (68.11% of the total value of transfers).
These data do not include information on transfers transacted by banks, card payment schemes and post offices.
Domestic transfers in money transfer systems over 2018 has increased by 24.3% year-over-year (in 2017 domestic transfers accounted for over UAH 120.5 billion or $4.456 billion in equivalent). Most of domestic transfers (92%) are transacted in systems established by nonbank institutions.