On September 18, ‘Death Budget-2021’ action took place in front of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Patients, parents together with their seriously ill children, activists and concerned citizens came out with a demand to increase the health sector funding to 5% of GDP, that is up to UAH 225 billion.
“We came together in front of the Verkhovna Rada with a simple demand: the President of Ukraine, the majority of MPs and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine must increase funding for medicine. What the Government is presenting now is a death budget for patients. That’s why we brought the skull as a symbol of the death budget and placed it in front of the Parliament building. After all, thousands of people die every year because the state budget underfunds the health sector”, said Dmytro Sherembey, Head of the 100% Life NGO.
“The budget 2021 does not increase spending for key health care areas, specifically for the health care guarantee program and for pharmaceutical procurement. The health care guarantee program as the way of implementing the health care reform was critically underfunded in 2020 and there is no significant increase for the next year. This means that patients will not receive the free medical care they need in hospitals. As for medicines, we cannot count neither on procurement of modern new generation drugs, nor on inclusion of new diseases into the public procurement programs”, said Inna Ivanenko, Executive Director of the Charitable Foundation “Patients of Ukraine”.
The patients urged not to vote for the death budget and demand from the Verkhovna Rada to:
The underfunded health care system turns into a catastrophe for thousands of patients’ families every year. The state abandons them and they start their survival race by looking for loans, borrowing money and searching for other ways to get expensive treatment.
“My son Eldar has a rare, congenital genetic disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy. To be born with such a diagnosis in Ukraine is a verdict, because the state has never allocated funds for its treatment. In Ukraine children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy without treatment get into a wheelchair at the age of 10 and rarely survive to 18 years. At the same time appropriate care and medicines can improve the quality of life of patients and they survive to 45-55 years. My husband and I are fighting for our boy’s life alone, because this is not a priority for government officials. A little more than UAH 161.5 million a year is needed to save my son and hundreds of other sick children. In terms of the state budget these are peanuts, but the policy officials choose to increase funding for their mansions, rather than for saving my son’s life”, said Karina Petoyan, a mother of a child with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Not all patients are lucky to raise the needed amount and to receive treatment. Some of them become invalids, others die.
“Due to lack of funding, I am in continuous search of money to pay for treatment! Because of this, my illness progressed and now I am in a wheelchair. There are thousands of patients like me! I can say on behalf of all people with disabilities that the state is deliberately bullying and humiliating us, we are forced to beg for medical treatment. Right now by approving the Death Budget, they are depriving us of the natural right to human existence”, said Maryana Pirozhok, a patient and a representative of the Ukrainian Community of People with Multiple Sclerosis (UCMS).
During the action, the patients composed a list of hundreds of people who died in the last two years because of medical system underfunding. All of them could have survived if the state allocated enough funds.
“For already several years the NGO ‘Athena: Women against Cancer’ deals with the treatment of cancer in Ukraine. I myself was diagnosed with cancer and I experienced the underfunding of our medical system. In the developed countries patients have the opportunity to receive treatment with effective innovative medicines. Unfortunately, in Ukraine they are inaccessible for patients, because the state procures only the simplest pharmaceuticals. That is why cancer mortality is very high in this country. Every year about a hundred thousand patients die in Ukraine. There are types of cancer with no chance of survival without the medicines not included in the pharmaceutical procurement list. Abroad such patients live and work, but not in Ukraine. We have compiled a list of people who died in recent years and never received appropriate funding from the state for their treatment. There are more than 6,500 women with cancer in our community and almost every day one of them dies, sometimes death claims several. Unfortunately, the draft budget for 2021 is killing us”, said Victoria Romanyuk, the co-founder NGO ‘Athens. Women Against Cancer’.
The patients’ organizations have already sent appeal to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal and the Finance Minister of Ukraine Serhiy Marchenko to increase the budget for health in 2021.