About fifty seriously ill patients gathered in front of the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine building to prevent reduction of budget expenditures for medicine procurement in 2016. Patients with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, oncological and orphan diseases demanded from the Minister of Finance Natalia Yaresko to allocate the sum of money required by the Ministry of Health to satisfy the basic treatment needs of severely ill patients.
Only UAH 3,4 billion are allocated in the draft budget for 2016 for medicine procurement. In order to provide patients with necessary medicines, the Ministry of Health asks to budget at least UAH 8.1 billion.
“For the first time in the history of Ukraine the Ministry of Health declared the real need for medicines, not following the principle “we will budget as much as we are allowed”, – says Olga Stefanyshyna, the Executive Director of the CF “Patients of Ukraine”. – If the Ministry of Finance approves the sum of UAH 3,4 billion, 60% of patients will be left without treatment”. – adds Olga.
Every year medicine procurement budget is formed in accordance with the leftover principle. The amount of funding, which the Ministry of Finance can allocate for treatment, is voiced to the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health in its turn communicates the corresponding sum to regions that form budget requests within the available limited amount of funding. In fact, this budget has never reflected the real treatment need and certain diseases, for example, cystic fibrosis or pediatric hemophilia has been covered no more than for 10-20%.
Ukraine has the highest prevalence in Europe of viral hepatitis. According to the estimates of public organizations, almost 9% of our country population is infected with this virus. The overall prevalence of hepatitis in Europe is found to be between 0.13-3%. In such circumstances, no country will be willing to sign an agreement on visa-free regime with Ukraine, because this will pose a direct threat to health and lives of its citizens.
“If the Ministry of Finance approves this deadly budget, more than 90% of Ukrainians with hepatitis will be left without treatment. Already today Ukraine has an opportunity to get the innovative treatment 100 times cheaper than Europe. But instead of procuring these drugs and stop the epidemic of hepatitis, our government cuts the budget. Today my life and the lives of millions of patients who hope to cure this terrible virus depend on Yaresko’s signature”, – says Oleg Martyniuk, the Head of public organization of patients with viral hepatitis C “Spark of Hope”.
It is the Minister of Finance Natalia Yaresko, who was addressed by seriously ill Ukrainians holding placards in their hands with the message: “Yaresko, choose: who shall live and who shall die”. Patients tried to draw attention of the Minister of Finance to make her see that on her signature depends whether patients will get the needed treatment or won’t.
“In accordance with the commitments made by Ukraine, the number of people receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS shall increase every year. This is the only way to stop the epidemic in the country. Thus, 79,000 HIV-positive patients should receive treatment for the state funds in 2016.” – says Sergiy Dmytriev, the Member of the Coordination Council of the AUCO “All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV.” – Another 50,000 patients will still be on the waiting list, waiting for medications. If the Ministry of Finance doesn’t allocate the required sum for treatment of HIV-positive patients, then the next year many patients who already take medications will interrupt their therapy. That means, that 3 out of 4 HIV-positive Ukrainians won’t receive the necessary medicines”.
Moreover, the Ministry of Finance plans to introduce 20% VAT on medicines starting from January 1, 2016, which will shorten the lifespan of even more patients.
International organizations and donors are also concerned about the financial policy of the Ministry of Finance in relation to patients. Recently the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have sent an official letter to the Prime Minister of Ukraine and the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Natalia Yaresko. The letter states that the Global Fund will provide the full extent of the funding in the amount of $ 138 million for the period 2015-2017 on condition that the Government of Ukraine provides “the envisaged counterpart financing including for antiretroviral treatment and opioid substitution therapy, as committed in the State AIDS Programme for 2014-2018”.
In Ukraine 1607 of patients die due to lack of medicines every day.
Contact person: Aliona Romaniuk 093 72 10 800, 050 335 53 01