January 24, 2024, 19:33

Disease X: How country’s healthcare system is getting ready for a potential new pandemic

Currently, the whole world is busy preparing health care systems for a possible new pandemic X, an epidemic or a surge of certain infectious diseases. Ukraine is also taking active measures to ensure that its healthcare system works properly if necessary. Thus, three key components of readiness have been identified in preparation for potential challenges: people, a strong laboratory network, and global collaboration.

Viktor Liashko, Minister of Health of Ukraine, made this statement during a briefing at Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform.

“Over the past three years, we have launched, reorganized and relaunched the network of centers for disease control and prevention. Even amidst the war, the Verkhovna Rada passed a law on the public health system and clearly defined our system for combating epidemics, which is based on the Ministry, the Center for Public Health. And there are centers for regional disease control and prevention, which are a part of the Ministry of Health’s structures. In the following period, we have doubled the funding of the network. For example, in 2021, the state allocated UAH 2.6 billion to fund this network, now we have UAH 4.9 billion to ensure funding and readiness to respond (to epidemics – Ed.). This means that we pay for the work of specialists who are employed in this system, today there are 14,494 such workers,” the Minister explained.

Also, Viktor Liashko pointed out that the stocks of materials and equipment are also being improved – both at the expense of the state budget and in cooperation with international partners.

In particular, the WHO helped Ukraine modernize laboratories for epidemiological monitoring equipment. The Minister emphasized that the country currently has a national reference laboratory, which is a part of the WHO global network of laboratories detecting pathogens. This lab analyzes DNA or RNA and transmits this information to the global network, which will be used in global epidemiologic surveillance in the future.

Additionally, Ukraine is connected to the Caesar network, which analyzes antibiotic resistance. In this case, the cooperation with the WHO allows for an opportunity to transfer data in order to see whether a certain pathogen with the potential to lead to the pandemic X has been detected and whether it is circulating in the country.

Viktor Liashko also noted that the state separately funds the readiness of health care facilities to respond to an epidemic. Thus, he noted, in 2023, 193 health care institutions received a separate package from the National Health Service of Ukraine called “Readiness to respond to epidemics or outbreaks of infectious diseases.”

“We spent UAH 2,385 billion on this preparation. According to the requirements, there are funds for specialists to undergo appropriate training, intensive care units are being equipped, and the necessary equipment is being purchased. But also, on the basis of these institutions, stocks are formed, the so-called health basket – a list of certain medicines, which must be in each of these 193 institutions with an irreducible supply for at least three months. This allows us to be ready to react instantly in the event of an outbreak, an epidemic or a pandemic of a certain disease with three-month reserves, until other mechanisms at the national and global levels are activated,” explained Viktor Liashko.

In addition, readiness for new challenges posed by a potential pandemic involves cooperation with global partners – both with the WHO and with the agencies of the European Commission.

Read more: https://mediacenter.org.ua/news