President Victor Yushchenko insists that the government must increase healthcare spending in 2008.

“I think we will increase spending on the [medical] sector by about 32%, although we have 28% in the draft budget. I am convinced we will change this position after two votes,” he said on Tuesday while visiting the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Children’s Hospital, president's press office reported.

Yushchenko said it was really important to develop first aid medicine and improve the social status of Ukrainian doctors. Ukrainian medicine needs deep structural changes, he said and added that there were 13 healthcare agencies in Ukraine which took 47% of the country’s medical budget. “In fact, we have no integral medical policy,” he said and added that this made medical services “less available and less public.” He said the state had been increasing healthcare spending by 30% since 2005 and urged the nation to unite to tackle problems in the sector.

Speaking about the need to develop first aid medicine, the president said it received only 5% of the medical budget, calling it “our key problem.”

Yushchenko said 60% of deaths in Ukraine’s rural areas could have been prevented, according to experts, and insisted that local authorities must equip medical facilities in their regions.

The president said he had suggested raising medical salaries by 37% and paying 20% more to those doctors who work in rural hospitals. “This is a motivation the state must demonstrate regarding the status of rural doctors,” he said.

Yushchenko called on the main political forces to support his new social policies, particularly those to develop medicine, education, science and culture. “I am convinced these things will reach a higher level in 2008 and we will finance them better and will have our own health more protected.”

The president then inspected the hospital and presented medical equipment to its heads and certificates to buy medical equipment to the Dnipropetrovsk region’s doctors. He also presented 46 cars to the region’s disabled residents.


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