On October 30 patients organized an action “Ministry of Asphalt Treatment” in front of the Ministry of Health. They demanded Stepanov’s resignation and call for the law enforcement authorities to investigate his negligence.
Because of inaction of the Ministry of Health cancer patients were deprived of UAH 104,5 million. These funds initially allocated for the repair of the National Cancer Institute laboratory were reallocated for the repair of roads and mines and for the restoration of educational institutions. Despite of the promise made by Minister Stepanov to complete the laboratory construction in 2020, the Ministry of Health failed even to perform the procedures required for spending money to repair the laboratory on time.
This is not the first time the cancer patients are deprived of the funds.
“Since the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Health has underutilized 26 million dollars saved on procurement of cancer medications at the 2019 budget cost. This is a great opportunity for the cancer patients to receive medications that have not been procured before.
However, part of these savings is regularly taken away: $ 2.5 million for COVID-19 at the beginning of the year and now for a flu vaccine. And to cap it all, the money for repair of the laboratories has been taken to repair the roads! This is nonsense, when pharmaceutical procurement fails, the patients are forced to buy medicines at their own expense while the Ministry of Health allocates the pharmaceutical procurement money to repair the roads!”, says Victoria Romanyuk from the NGO “Athena. Women against Cancer.”
Patients brought pieces of asphalt to the building of the Ministry of Health as a sign that soon not only cancer patients but all other patients will receive asphalt instead of tablets
“This week, the Ministry of Health initiated, and the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a Resolution transferring the whole medical procurement of the country under hands-on management of the Minister of Health and his team. With this carte blanche, Minister Stepanov can solely decide which color and from what source to procure the pills. This kills the successful anti-corruption reform of the pharmaceutical procurement stone dead and transforms the State Enterprise “Medical Procurement of Ukraine” from an independent and autonomous procurement agent into the tender department of the Ministry of Health. For patients these are again excessive prices for medicines and their total shortage because of corruption.
Again we find ourselves in the times of tender schemes and money laundering”, said Inna Ivanenko, Executive Director of the CF “Patients of Ukraine”.
While Minister Stepanov is giving away the health care funds to other ministries because he is incapable of using them, patients have already run out of medicines.
“I came to the Ministry of Health to represent my mother ill with lung cancer, as she cannot be here. She needs Alectinib medication for her treatment. If the Ministry of Health did its work on time and did not procrastinate the procurement, my mother could receive this medicine from the state. After all, the state has money for it.
Our treatment costs UAH 70,000 per month, which is a huge amount for any family and for our family as well. The Ministry of Health neglects its job and leaves us to our own devices. I have to ask for help from relatives, friends and other people. It is painful to watch the Ministry of Health spending money on roads while my mom has stage IV lung cancer without any hope to receive help from the state!”, said Tetyana Venglinska, the daughter of a cancer patient.
Earlier, the CF “Patients of Ukraine” together with the Anti-Corruption Action Center” sent a letter to the law enforcement authorities with the request to investigate Minister Stepanov’s negligence. Resignation of Stepanov from the position of the Minister of Health is one of the main demands of the protesters.