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​New health chief seeks to open medical call centres for remote assistance

Ulana Suprun wants to ease the workload on the ambulance.

The Ministry of Health plans to open a call center, where you can get medical advice instead of calling ambulance, the new Acting Minister of Health Ulana Suprun told LB.ua describing the steps that she sees as top priorities on her new job.

"Last year there were more than 9 million ambulance calls in Ukraine, while only 2.5 million patients of those who called an ambulance, were hospitalized. The rest either got assistance at home or did not need medical assistance at all. This is why we want to organize a call center where people could call and medical advice, instead of immediately call an ambulance. We expect that in many cases medical advice over the phone can help solve the problem without ambulance," she said.

Suprun said she intended to organize first aid courses to train police officers and firemen.

"[We want] anyone to be able to approach a policeman or fireman and ask for help or if the police or fire brigade are the first to appear on the scene where someone is hurt. They can promptly render first aid, and it is very important, it can save a human life. We plan to work with the crews of ambulance and emergency brigades to improve their skills and level of knowledge. We will also work with personnel in hospitals, where ambulances bring patients," Suprun said.

The primary link medicine is on the top of agenda, says Suprun.

"Our people, as a rule, do not have family doctors. When they need a specialist they first call friends. Even if they have a family doctor, they have to go to a clinic and sit in line for hours to get an appointment. We are in talks with a group of young people who are launching a startup called Polyclinics Without Queues. The idea is that one can make an appointment with own family doctor or a specialist through the system - over the Internet or over the phone for a fixed time [and date]. This will save patients' time, moreover, you can see which doctors have more patients and therefore provide services," Suprun said.

On 27 July, the Cabinet of Ministers appointed Suprun as acting minister of health starting 1 August. Suprun came to the Ministry as deputy minister just days before.

The Cabinet has stated that Suprun was given carte blanche regarding the formation of own team.

Ulana Suprun was born in Detroit, USA and moved to Ukraine with her husband in the autumn of 2013. During the Revolution of Dignity she was on the Maidan. She worked in a medical office, then headed the humanitarian initiatives of the Ukrainian World Congress and founded the organisation Protection of Patriots, which deals with training on tactical medicine and provides the Ukrainian military with improved individual kits to NATO standards. In October 2015, she became a consultant to the Verkhovna Rada Health Committee.

In July 2015 she received Ukrainian citizenship.

Earlier, acting health minister was Viktor Shafranskyy. After the appointment of Suprun, Shafranskyy retired from the post.