The WHO Country Office, Ukraine was established in Kyiv in 1994 and has since then been working for improving public health and well being in the country. The country Office is supported by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in Denmark and its Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The WHO takes the lead in the global health sector response to HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS Department provides evidence-based, technical support to WHO Member States to help them achieve universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment.
In Ukraine, the WHO response to HIV/AIDS is guided by the priorities set forth in the European Action Plan for HIV/AIDS 2012-2015 endorsed by 53 member states in the European Region. These priorities include:
- Optimizing HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care outcomes.
- Leveraging broader health outcomes through HIV responses.
- Building strong and sustainable health systems.
- Addressing inequalities and advance human rights.
To achieve these goals in Ukraine, the WHO provides technical support for state and non-state institutions focusing on the following areas:
- - Antiretroviral treatment and prophylaxis and treatment of opportunistic infections
- - HIV/AIDS testing and counseling
- - Prevention of HIV among representatives of the most-at-risk groups, including injecting drug users through substitution treatment programs, and in healthcare settings
- - HIV/AIDS surveillance
On a daily basis, WHO provides support by way of:
- - Advocating for an improved national response to HIV/AIDS epidemic, with particular focus on representatives of the most-at-risk population groups
- - Generating and communicating international experience on what works in HIV
- - Supporting the development of sound HIV policies and programmes
- - Facilitating the elaboration of treatment guidelines and training programmes
- - Helping keep track of the HIV response and monitoring and evaluation of its effects
- - Responding to requests from organizations and individuals
Activities that are currently being undertaken by the WHO country office in Ukraine include:
- - HIV/AIDS Treatment guidelines: Up-to-date HIV/AIDS treatment guidelines represent the foundation for high quality treatment and care. The WHO works with the Ministry of Health (MoH) to develop and regularly update national guidelines, addressing ART and opportunistic infections in adults and children, the prevention of mother to child transmission, and co-conditions such as drug dependence, TB and viral hepatitis.
- - Patient tracking: Monitoring the expansion and success of HIV/AIDS treatment programmes is key to ensuring progress towards universal access. WHO and the MoH are developing and introducing a patient monitoring system that will allow public health managers to better track HIV/AIDS treatment and improve patient care.
- - Improvement of medical services: a big proportion of HIV patients have various co-morbidities – TB, drug dependence and viral hepatitis. Taking this into account the WHO country office in Ukraine provides technical support in implementation of the integrated care model through integrated care centers set up at the relevant medical settings – TB and drug treatment facilities, AIDS centers – as well as in training of the multidisciplinary team members.
- - Opioid substitution treatment (OST): Since the HIV epidemic in Ukraine is closely linked to unsafe injecting drug use (IDU), WHO is promoting the expansion of appropriate treatment programmes for IDUs, including OST. WHO participates in the meetings of an intersectoral working group on this issue, and is playing an active role in strategic planning and advocacy for OST scale-up. WHO has been co-organizing the National Conferences on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm and Expansion of OST programs in the country.
- - Testing and counseling: Recognizing that only some one third of all people living with HIV in Ukraine are aware of their status, WHO helps the MoH to review current HIV testing and counseling policies and practices in view of increasing possibilities for the population to safely learn about their HIV status. This will help to avoid HIV transmission to healthy people.
- - Human resources: In many countries the lack of appropriately skilled human resources presents a challenge to scale-up of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services. WHO works closely with the National Training Center to strengthen capacity of the human resources to supervise PLHA in all regions of Ukraine. It among other things initiated the implementation of the new cycle of professional education on monitoring of ART side effects. In addition, WHO helps the MoH to convene key stakeholder meetings that can regularly monitor the human resource situation and take appropriate actions.
- - Drug resistance: As ART is expanding in Ukraine, concern about the emergence of drug resistance is rising. WHO has been instrumental in supporting the development of a national drug resistance prevention strategy and monitoring of HIV drug resistance and transmission.
- - Strategic information: WHO is working closely with the MoH, UNAIDS and UNICEF to ensure the availability of reliable information on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine and reporting on health sector response to ensure universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support. WHO also promotes the development of various operational research that will allow understanding and improving the effectiveness of ongoing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts.
- - Resource mobilization: WHO has played a key role in the elaboration of technical aspects of the national grant request to the Global Fund (GF) to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria and is now providing active support to national partners for efficient implementation of GF programs.