Kyiv, Ukraine, 28 May 2019 - Five major noncommunicable diseases – cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary and mental health diseases – contribute to almost 84% of all deaths in Ukraine. Almost 30% of men who died in 2017 from NCDs are in the working age group of 30-65 years.

The probability of dying between the ages of 30-70 is much higher in Ukraine than other European countries and almost twice as high for men than for women. This burden is simply unaffordable for a country that strives for social and economic development and growth. Since most of these diseases are closely linked to use of tobacco, alcohol consumption, insufficient physical activity and unhealthy diet, they are largely preventable. Multisectoral action in partnership with multiple stakeholders is needed.

Ukraine’s achievements and country priorities in combating noncommunicable diseases was discussed at the National Conference hosted and organized by the Ministry of Health (MOH) of Ukraine together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Participants represented a wide range of stakeholders including the World Bank and development agencies, international experts, national partners, as well as doctors and teachers from all over Ukraine.

“WHO supports the countries in implementing their plans and strategies in the health sector in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. More action is needed to reduce premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030”, said Dr Bente Mikkelsen, Director, Division for NCDs and Promoting Health through the Life-course, WHO Regional Office for Europe. “To achieve this target we have to make sure that evidence-based policies are in place, best practices for prevention and treatment applied and every person can take informed decisions about their habits and lifestyle”, Dr Mikkelsen added.

“For decades, the Ukrainian health system was aimed at treatment, not prevention of diseases. Since 2016, the transformation of the health system has been focused on preventive health care services and health promotion. Such an approach has proven to be the most effective, particularly, for combating noncommunicable diseases” – said Dr Ulana Suprun, acting Minister of Health of Ukraine.

“NCDs kill 41 mln people each year – that’s 71% of all deaths globally; unfortunately in Ukraine it’s even more than 80%. NDCs is a huge problem that isn’t just in health, but in development as well. To resolve problem on NCDs we really need a multisectoral approach – it requires leadership and comprehensive approach for health at the government level, including health in all policies and all governmental approaches is health and education, but also in energy, agriculture, sport, transports, communication, urban planning, environment, labor employment, industry and trade, finance, social and economic development”, - commented UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Osnat Lubrani.

Training health care professionals to prevent noncommunicable diseases

In the recent years, WHO and Ministry of Health trained over 10,000 family doctors and nurses in seven regions, so that they can better support their patients and redistribute the functions within the team to work more effectively.

“Health care professionals are an important source of the information, and their close relations with the person seeking for medical assistance is the cornerstone of the patient-centered health system. We have to make sure that doctors and nurses are equipped with the knowledge and skills for the diagnosis and management of cardiovascular and other noncommunicable diseases. In addition, they have to be able to provide the evidence based information on the key risk factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and limited physical activity, and motivate people to choose health”, highlighted Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine.

Improving policy to save more lives

In addition to the training activities, Ministry of Health and partners including WHO and non-government organizations developed a number of legislative initiatives such as the National NCD Action Plan, Draft laws on Tobacco control, Food-based dietary guidelines and draft legislation banning industrial trans-fatty acids. Timely approval and enforcement of these legislative initiatives in Ukraine will ensure the country’s progress towards attainment of the SDGs targets through implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), transformation of the mental health care system and other activities.

“I would like to express gratitude to the Swiss Government for the ongoing support of the noncommunicable diseases prevention and health promotion in Ukraine, along with its longstanding partnership in the fields of the health system’s strengthening and mental health. This support and our partnerships has been crucial in developing many of the initiatives now in place”, said Dr Jarno Habicht.

CONTACTS:

Anna Borshchevska, Communications Officer, WHO Ukraine

borshchevskaa@who.int


USEFUL LINKS:

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) https://www.who.int/fctc/cop/about/en/

Health-related Sustainable Development Goals in Ukraine http://sdg.org.ua/ua/pro-hlobalni-tsili/good-health-and-well-being

Tackling noncommunicable diseases in Ukraine (2018) http://www.euro.who.int/en/countries/ukraine/publications/tackling-noncommunicable-diseases-in-ukraine