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Humanitarian/Medical News

Health Advisory Committee Update December 2020

The Canada-Ukraine Foundation’s (CUF) Health Advisory Team (HAT) aims to be the partner of choice for Ukrainian healthcare institutions, NGOs, and various levels of government health ministries to build capability and capacity within Ukrainian healthcare systems and communities. Through CUF supported and sponsored programs and projects, we promote health by enabling organizations, healthcare practitioners and healthcare promotion advocates to improve the healthcare in the communities that they serve.

The Health Advisory Team was responsible for supporting and implementing a number of critical health initiatives in 2019-2020. Through its collaborations, partnerships and initiatives it was able to bring such programs as the Sunnybrook Ukraine Surgical Educational initiative formalized in September 2019, to hospitals in Lviv, Ukraine.

This three-year initiative partners the Sunnybrook Health Science Centre (through the support of the Sunnybrook Foundation and its donors, in particular, the Temerty Foundation and Ihnatowycz Foundations), Canada-Ukraine Foundation, and three hospitals in Lviv to provide education and training to medical specialists in Ukraine. Dr. Oleh Antonyshyn leads a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses in providing education and training to medical specialists in Ukraine in the fields of microsurgery, craniofacial reconstruction and upper extremity reconstruction.

The program is delivered through advisory missions, live surgery demonstrations, and focused symposia, workshops and educational observerships. The first mission was conducted in October 2019 with a team of six specialists The Canadian team together, with their Ukrainian colleagues completed a total of 25 surgical procedures on patients ranging from 9 to 65 years of age. As part of the program, 138 participants, from various disciplines and from all parts of Ukraine participated in a nationwide symposium covering topics in craniofacial surgery and microsurgery organized by the Canadian team. In addition to the training provided, 460kg of medical equipment and supplies valued at $250,000 CAD was left at the hospitals for their use.

The novel coronavirus pandemic disrupted plans to launch the second mission but work is on-going to develop the initiative and implement new programs.

The pandemic restrictions brought to light other needs that CUF was able to address and support. At the start of the quarantine almost 50,000 children were sent home from orphanages “Internaty” to their biological families who were ill-equipped to welcome their children home. CUF in cooperation with Help Us Help and supported by Ukrainian Canadian Congress and MEEST and in partnership with the Ombudsman for Children with the President of Ukraine provided food and hygiene kits to 250 families in the Zhytomyr Oblast whose children were sent home due to the pandemic.

The ultimate goal of the project was to help facilitate deinstitutionalization reforms in the country that will ensure every child grows up with their family or in a similar family-like setting.

Around the globe, the pandemic is first and foremost on everyone’s mind, but the ongoing war with Russia in Eastern Ukraine isn’t far from our thoughts. The war has left thousands of Ukrainian Veterans with physical and mental trauma that the country’s health system is trying to treat. Through a generous donation by the Dnipro Cultural Centre Oshawa Fund, CUF was able to support the psychological treatment of 50 female veterans and soldiers at The Center of Psychological Counseling & Traumatherapy “Open Doors”. At the start of the project, the mental health specialists at The Open Doors Center in Kyiv provided in-person treatment to the patients, but with the pandemic, they were able to adapt to the restrictions and provide on-line services as well as treatment in the military hospital for those hospitalized.