A roundtable discussion was held on the provision of medical services to servicemen and veterans

On 16 January 2024, a roundtable discussion on “Provision of Medical Services to Servicemen and Veterans” was held at the Mirror Hall of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. The event was held with the participation of Oksana Syvak, Deputy Minister of  Veterans Affairs for European Integration, the University administration, as well as experts representing various medical organisations. The event was organised by the Centre for Social Development and Public Initiatives in cooperation with the Consortium of Veterans’ Organisations of the East and the NOVO Medical Centre.

The meeting was moderated by Olha Guzhva, Head of the Consortium of Veterans Organisations of the East, who invited everyone to a free discussion and stressed the importance of the experience of the experts present to address the current problems of medical care for the military. “According to a survey conducted by the Ukrainian Veterans Fund, 78% of the military surveyed said that in the future they would need constant medical care, including diagnostic services. At the same time, today only 7-8% of the military are satisfied with the quality and efficiency of the services provided. That is, we are faced with a problem that needs to be addressed in a more systematic way,” said Olga Guzhva.

The participants were greeted by the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, Social Affairs and Development, Professor Volodymyr Kachmar, who spoke about the University’s activities during the war, in particular, he focused on the volunteer initiatives of the university community, the provision of psychological, legal and rehabilitation services to the military. The Vice-Rector also added that the Centre for Social Development and Public Initiatives operates at Lviv University to support employees who are defending Ukraine and their families at the battlefield.

The event was then addressed by Oksana Syvak, Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, who spoke about the current state of the provision of medical services to the military and veterans, its problems and prospects for development. Oksana Syvak also reported on the division of responsibilities for providing medical and rehabilitation services between ministries and stressed that the Ministry of Veterans Affairs is focused on further psychological support for veterans.

“The Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs will help veterans after they have completed their treatment in healthcare facilities. To do this, we are currently developing an algorithm for supporting veterans before mobilisation, during and after mobilisation, and training psychologists to work with combat trauma,” said Oksana Syvak and asked the audience to support the development of psychological assistance centres in communities, as well as to join the programme of psychological rehabilitation and reintegration of veterans into society.

“We need to understand that the community is ready not only to rehabilitate veterans, but also to employ and socialise them in society. We need to create the right conditions for a person to return to civilian life, to be able to work and support the economy,” the speaker added. Oksana Syvak also explained the principle of division of responsibilities and interaction between ministries in the rehabilitation of veterans, and described the idea of accompanying veterans with a qualified personal assistant to assess the needs of the veteran and assist in their further reintegration.

Yaryna Tanchak, Head of the Centre for Social Development and Public Initiatives at Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, made a presentation on the statistics of the most frequent requests for medical care and post-mobilisation prosthetics from veterans. Yaryna Tanchak also drew attention to the fact that the funding of the National Health Service of Ukraine does not cover all the medical and rehabilitation needs of the military, stressing the importance of monitoring the quality of medical services provided to veterans.

Next, Marta Pyvovarenko, an expert from the Expert Group of Rehabilitation Physicians at the Ministry of Veterans of  Ukraine, took the floor. “According to estimates of the prevalence of pain, 45-87% of patients with chronic pain are referred for treatment of post-traumatic stress. Most often, post-traumatic stress disorder occurs in people with fibromyalgia and migraines, which means that the link between physical health and the development of post-traumatic stress is very high,” the expert explained. “According to an integrated study, after treatment in mental health centres, post-traumatic stress disorder regresses without being combined with treatment in medical institutions.

Taras Lysak, director of the NOVO Medical Centre, spoke about his vision for the development of private centres, noting that the assistance mechanism should become universal and the number of medical services for veterans should be increased. The speaker also called on other representatives of private veterans’ care institutions to unite and jointly seek options for cooperation with state institutions.

After an active discussion, everyone had the opportunity to express their thoughts and suggestions. In conclusion, Olga Guzhva summed up the topics discussed and thanked everyone who joined the conversation for their valuable experience and motivation to make a difference.