President of Ukraine

We need to save not only lives, but also their quality - Olena Zelenska during a meeting with WHO Director-General

19 September 2023 - 21:32

We need to save not only lives, but also their quality - Olena Zelenska during a meeting with WHO Director-General

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska met with Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 78th session UN General Assembly, where the First Lady and the President of Ukraine arrived to participate in high-level events.

Olena Zelenska expressed her gratitude to the World Health Organization for helping Ukraine save people's health and lives during the Russian invasion.

"The war has weeded out the unimportant. The war has revealed and demonstrated true values and priorities. The priority and core value for Ukraine is people and their lives. This is already an axiom for conscious people. It is time to make it an axiom that quality of life is also important. And mental health is the basis of this quality. The war against Ukraine has become a challenge that has actualized the need to transform psychosocial assistance and specialized psychiatric care, the need to move from a dubious quantity to a tangible quality of services for people," the President's wife said.

The First Lady spoke about the implementation of the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program, which she initiated to provide psychological assistance and self-help basics to the entire population of the country.

"We have an Interagency Coordination Council for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, which is a platform for developing governmental management decisions. Another important area was the development of coordination and consensus. With the support of the WHO, an advisory body, the Coordination Center for Mental Health under the Cabinet of Ministers, was established. A model of regional coordination of the All-Ukrainian Mental Health Program is in place, and the interaction of ministries and regional military administrations is already evident. The WHO Office in Ukraine coordinates the non-governmental sector and international partners in the development of psychosocial assistance services," she emphasized.

Olena Zelenska emphasized that mental health is among the top 5 challenges in the world today. This was confirmed by a large-scale sociological survey on mental health and attitude towards it conducted for the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen in July-August 2023 with the support of WHO in 11 countries. In this regard, the President's wife proposed to the head of the World Health Organization to approve a resolution on the impact of war on mental health at the World Health Assembly in May 2024, which will update the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030, and to hold a separate ministerial-level WHO program event during the World Health Assembly under the leadership of Ukraine on the impact of war on mental health.

Olena Zelenska and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus discussed a new initiative of Ukraine - an international medical partnership launched under the patronage of the Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen as part of the satellite summit of health ministers from different countries. Memoranda of partnership between Ukrainian and foreign medical institutions were signed by 14 health ministers.

"The international medical partnership envisages the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between specific medical institutions - Ukrainian and foreign. This means that a Ukrainian medical institution will get a "sister" abroad with whom it will share experience, adopt best practices, organize internships for doctors, etc. So far, 25 foreign hospitals have become partners of Ukrainian hospitals. This is extremely important because our medical system is suffering every day because of the full-scale war. Russia has already damaged 1427 healthcare facilities and destroyed another 189. And our medical institutions need a reliable shoulder of support more than ever to continue to develop and provide quality medical care to Ukrainians," Olena Zelenska said.

She invited the WHO to participate and take initiatives in the framework of the medical partnership, emphasizing that it opens up prospects not only for Ukraine, but also for partner countries. After all, Ukrainian specialists have a unique experience in saving lives in wartime.

"Ukraine's experience should serve the entire civilized world and be reflected in global policies on both emergency medical care and strengthening international cooperation, cross-border information exchange, management of joint stockpiles, and so on," the First Lady emphasized.