UNDP launches innovative rehabilitation initiatives for war-affected in Ukraine

November 21, 2023
Photo: UNDP in Ukraine

Kyiv, 21 November 2023 – This week, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) spearheaded a pivotal All-Ukrainian conference on advancing rehabilitation services, unveiling two transformative initiatives. The event, a collaborative effort with the Office of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Policy, and the Secretariat of the Human Rights Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada, received financial backing from the Republic of Korea, Germany, and Japan.   

The conference addressed the current state of Ukraine's rehabilitation system, providing a platform for professionals and experts to share knowledge, research, and experiences. Speakers discussed challenges faced by the rehabilitation system while highlighting achieved successes. Key directions for the field's development in the coming years were outlined, emphasising the need for collaborative efforts during wartime.

In his opening remarks, Jaco Cilliers, UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine, stressed the urgent need for rehabilitation services due to the war's impact, and said UNDP is fully commited to inclusive recovery. "UNDP champions rehabilitation in Ukraine, advocating for inclusive policies and partnering with government, civil society, and the private sector to enhance accessibility and support for the disabled, aiming for a society where no one is left behind,” he said.

The event highlighted key research findings on rehabilitation services for those impacted by war-related injuries and impairments, drawing on national surveys, focus group discussions, and interviews with affected individuals. 

The Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Yuliia Sokolovska, said rehabilitation is not merely a physical process but a multifaceted journey toward the full integration of an individual into society. "It is essential that we all realise that beyond a person's physical recovery lies the most crucial task: ensuring their full social and professional reintegration,” she said. “Our responsibilities today extend beyond the physical aspects. We must actively promote each person's psychological, social, and professional recovery. It is not enough to heal their bodies; we must provide them with the opportunity to rebuild their lives and space and integrate freely and fully into society. The readiness of society itself is no less important." 

The first of UNDP's initiatives presented today marks a significant step forward in integrating social workers into multidisciplinary teams within 14 medical institutions across various Ukrainian oblasts. These specialists now aid patients in accessing necessary services, provide psychological first-aid consultations and support victims' families.

Minister of Social Policy Oksana Zholnovich said the Government is working to make the rehabilitation process comprehensive and practical. "For the first time this year, within the pilot project, social workers have been integrated into multidisciplinary teams,” she said. “This is a significant innovation because these specialists assist patients in restoring documents, obtaining prosthetics, or accessing social benefits and services while still in the hospital. By involving social workers in multidisciplinary teams, we aim to build a bridge between treatment, rehabilitation, and social services in the community." 

The second initiative involves developing and piloting a rehabilitation model for people with visual impairments. This model outlines services needed at each rehabilitation stage, identifies necessary specialists, defines their competencies, and details the equipment required for each service. The model is currently undergoing approbation in two major rehabilitation institutions in the country.

Additionally, success stories of Ukraine's medical institutions and rehabilitation specialists were showcased at the event, with the Ministry of Health introducing the 'Centres of Excellence' concept to centralize and enhance the dissemination of best rehabilitation practices.

The Minister of Health of Ukraine, Viktor Liashko, emphasized that the Ukrainian rehabilitation system should become the strongest in Europe.

"This is the task set before us by the President of Ukraine. This is our duty to the Heroes. This year, 92,000 patients have already received free-of-charge rehabilitation assistance in a hospital, 115,000 on an outpatient basis. The state paid 3 billion UAH to medical institutions for this. Currently, we continue to work on implementing the concept of the development of the rehabilitation system in the healthcare field. To improve quality, the Ministry of Health initiated the development of six rehabilitation centres of excellence. These medical facilities are already demonstrating excellent results and applying best practices. They are centres of invaluable experience. On their basis, advanced techniques will be applied, and specialists from multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams will be trained. They will also work here on the introduction of new evidence-based methods of rehabilitation," added Mr Liashko.

Background: This landmark event was part of the UNDP's initiatives 'Supporting the Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities Caused by War,' funded by the Republic of Korea and Germany, and 'Promoting Human Security in Ukraine through Responding to the Multidimensional Crisis Caused by War,' supported by the Government of Japan. These projects underscore a collaborative international effort to address the complex challenges arising from the war in Ukraine.

Media enquiries:

Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Head of Communications; e-mail: yuliia.samus@undp.org