Posted on 27 Jan, 2022 by Dr. Juma Khudonazarov

On 20-21st January 2022, the Swiss-Ukraine project Act4Health, led by GFA Consulting Group, in collaboration with Ukraine Public Health, organized a two-day strategy development workshop in Ukraine involving all national and international stakeholders working in the field of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Act4Health is one of the most significant and sustained investments from the Swiss Government to combat NCDs in Ukraine.

Photo: Representatives from Ministry of Health, Ukraine Public Health Centre, WHO, UNICEF, CDC, EU Project, and Act4Health project

The workshop aimed to develop a joint strategy to tackle non-communicable diseases in Ukraine and support the Ministry of Health in achieving a National Plan of Action to combat non-communicable diseases. Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Kuzin Ihor, opened the meeting by outlining the key activities planned by the Ministry of Health in 2022 followed presentations by Ukraine Public Health Centre representative with a focus on the prevention of NCDs in the country. In addition, the Act4Heath project team presented the strategic direction of the project and highlighted how the cooperation between WHO, UNICEF, CDC (Centre for Diseases Control), the EU, and representatives from the local Ukrainian office of the regional CDC will be strengthened. This was a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to come together and discuss the joint plan to address the public health threat of 21st century NCDs. By the end of the workshop, we had developed a comprehensive NCD action plan with a clear mapping of activities and identification of the responsible organizations.

"Ukraine faces triple threats: conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and an economic downturn that will affect people with chronic health conditions and those with disabilities directly or indirectly. This workshop will enable us to formulate a united response and mitigate as much as possible the impact of the above threats"
Dr. Juma Khudonazarov, Head of Act4Health project

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is now active in five regions of Ukraine, and works with various multidisciplinary teams to address NCDs. The project aims to support the Ukrainian people in adopting healthy lifestyles, and encourage the Ministry of Health to mainstream the prevention of NCDs in all health policies and beyond. The tools and activities used include policy discussion, research by academic institutions, community empowerment, and capacity building of the newly established CDC, primary health care facilities, and schools.

The workshop provided all stakeholders with the opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities options on developing a comprehensive, evidence-based, and smart plan to address key determinants of health, in particular NCDs, that have health, social, and economic impacts. Participants also raised the question of chronic underfunding of NCDs interventions and asked the Ministry of Health to consider this.

The underlying values of our plan are solidarity, fairness, inclusivity, and transparency. Our lessons learned from the COVID-19  pandemic so far is that to build back better, we need to take into account existing health and social inequalities for all, not just a few.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we now see the health, social, and economic impacts this pandemic has had on our society, and our population. This brings the problem of NCDs into focus. We have seen an increase in health inequalities, a loss of focus in controlling the impact of NCDs, a sometimes nationalistic and pointless battle for vaccines, and poor choices around the use of continued restrictions, rather than evidence-based public health actions.

With the initiative of the Act4Health project and the financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), all stakeholders agreed that we should have an annual joint NCD strategy meeting.

Project in brief

#SDC #NCD #Noncommunicable #Ukraine #Disease #Act4Health @WHO @CDC @EU