Death Sentence to Seriously Ill Patients: Public and Patients’ Organizations Demand to Fire Stepanov as Pharmaceutical Procurements Are at Stake

Death Sentence to Seriously Ill Patients: Public and Patients’ Organizations Demand to Fire Stepanov as Pharmaceutical Procurements Are at Stake

Закупівлі ліків, звільнити Максима Степанова

The Health Ministry of Ukraine is disrupting procurement of medicines, vaccines and medical devices for seriously ill Ukrainians for budget 2020. Every year pharmaceuticals are procured in 38 different areas at the centralized level.

Maksim Stepanov, the Health Minister and his specialist deputy Svitlana Shatalova  have not yet signed the urgently needed documents for procurement initiation and hold back true information about residual stocks of the medications for patients.

“According to SE “Medical Procurement of Ukraine” in thee months in the autumn seriously ill patients will run out of medicines. Newborns with respiratory disorders, oncology children and PLWH will be left without medicines in September. As to the rest of the programs we do not have reliable information on the quantities of the left medications and if the patients will have enough medicines till the next deliveries. It looks like Stepanov derides the patients making them play a ‘Will I still be alive in autumn’ game”, says Inna Ivanenko, Executive Director of the CF “Patients of Ukraine.

This year it is decided that medicines and medical devices for seriously ill patients will be procured by specially created procurement agency and international organizations.

Recently the Cabinet of Ministers voted for a Procurement Resolution, but this is only a framework document approving the list of medicines to be procured. In order to start the procurement a number of internal documents are still pending approval.

For starting the procurement MoH should adopt 8 documents that for several months migrate from one office to another. It was publicly confirmed at the SE “Medical Procurement of Ukraine”. A complete list of documents to be signed can be found in;

For starting the procurement through the international organizations it is necessary to determine these organizations and to sign corresponding agreements. None of this has been made by MoH.

These documents are required only to start the procurement. The procurement procedures last from 2 to 4 months and time is also needed for delivery and sometimes even for manufacturing of medicines. Even if the procurement procedures start tomorrow, the first lots of medicines can come to patients only in the first half of 2021.

It is important that a number of medicines procured by the state at the central level cannot be found in pharmacies. In other cases, patients cannot afford to buy them and are therefore at risk of death.

“We see here the signs of corruption. The same scenario was staged in 2014, when the Health Ministry brought the situation to the absolute absence of medicines in the regions with the only goal to quickly procure the medicines from their own companies at the end of the year. Then this ended with big schemes and real pharmaceutical looting. The MoH officials seem to hope that during the pandemic no one will pay attention to the inaction of the Health Ministry in providing patients with pharmaceuticals. But this is nothing but criminal negligence”, explains Olena Shcherban, a board member of the Anticorruption Action Center.

The actions of the current Health Ministry are a game with the lives of thousands of patients. Oncology children will become the first to be left without medications.

“Today, more than 6,000 children are diagnosed with cancer. We have been fighting for more than a year for the Ukrainian government to do its job – to provide treatment for children. Now we see backslide:  the Health Ministry does not procure medicines. This means that parents will have to buy the necessary chemotherapy at their own cost. But now all borders are sealed as the whole world is captured by the pandemic. It will be simply impossible to get the necessary medicines. The current actions of the Health Ministry mean a signed death sentence for all children who are struggling with cancer”, says Olga Kudinenko, the founder of the CF “Tabletochki“ about the situation with medicines for oncology children.

“Patients living with HIV will be left without medications. This is more than 130,000 people with daily complex medications regimen. Any interruption in therapy leads to recurrence and inevitable death of patients. 130,000 people who can live and work in Ukraine will lose this opportunity. We have already started seeking international assistance, because this situation is a humanitarian catastrophe. This is understood by donors, who are ready to procure medicines for us, by everyone in the world, but not by our Health Ministry. Get over yourself, you are just killing people who want to live!” This is how Dmytro Sherembey, Head of the NGO “100% Life” outlined the situation with medicines for HIV-positive people.

Situation that developed in Ukraine with procurement of medicines and medical devices is a humanitarian catastrophe. The patients’ and public organizations that for years struggle for life of millions of patients demand the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky:

Immediately fire the Health Minister Maksim Stepanov;

Immediately take under your control the procurement of medicines for seriously ill patients, which means to unblock procurements, publish information on the residual stocks of medicines in Ukraine and seek humanitarian assistance!

Mr. President, we give you two weeks to implement these conditions. If the state continues to play with lives of millions of seriously ill patients on June 1 we will get together in front of the President’s Office.  Just you wait!

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