One thing common between India and Ukraine, is corruption. Any other similarities end there. In India corruption is clearly evident in our poor road systems, poor public offices and their deliveries, poorly maintained hospitals, schools, ports and also anything that the Government has a duty to deliver.

Ukraine is plagued with corruption in high places but one doesn’t see evidence of it in their beautiful public areas, roadways, railways, healthcare system, district heating, education system and almost anything else.

I’ve been visiting Ukraine for the last five years and can’t but help admiring some of the Ukrainian practices and systems. I’ve touched upon a few in my four part article, Knowing Ukraine. This year I want to touch upon its healthcare system.

Ukraine has an universal healthcare system that it inherited from its times as part of the Soviet Union. There is talk and discussion on reforms but they appear yet to be formulated and implemented. But to me, coming from India, where it is unthinkable for a middle class person to use the government medical facilities, I’m in awe of how efficient and effective the medical centers are here.

Couple of years back I witnessed first hand the National Cancer Institute which is the gold standard in the world especially for thyroid cancer. Even leading medical establishments in the US and U.K. use the findings of this center on thyroid cancer. Since the Chernobyl nuclear leak in 1988 the cases of thyroid cancer skyrocketed and hence research and treatment of those affected has been a major focus area. The whole treatment including surgery, consultations, medication, oral radiation in isolation and continued follow up for five years costs nothing more than USD 150/INR 10000. However, ‘tips’ are accepted and openly discussed by surgeons and specialists and patients happily cough up anything up to an additional $100 to augment the poor salaries of these government employees.

The hospital is neat, doctors are highly experienced and the nursing staff are efficient. Set in salubrious surroundings, this center is sought by folks from all over Ukraine, Belarus and other neighboring countries.

Research data of the NCI is adopted by the WHO and made it to the international edition of five continents.

This year I’ve got a peak into the neo-natal, maternity and childcare system of Ukraine. As I bear witness to this I cannot but marvel at how well this is organized and the top quality medical facilities provided in well funded Government maternity and childcare hospitals.

The government maternity hospital in Kyiv is the finest I have seen. Well laid out, well equipped and top quality medical and nursing services that I have not seen anywhere else. The delivery rooms are fabulous, with well-coordinated color schemes and well equipped for a pleasant experience of the delivering mother.

Everything is monitored and recorded from the minute the baby is born, from pooh to pee and time of feeds. Recorded by the patient’s family and reviewed by the nurses and doctors. Consumables and personal items right from bedsheets, pillow covers, thermometers, mugs, plates, cutlery, have to be brought from home. The hospital provides simple nutritious food but doesn’t deal with washing dishes, bed linen etc. They provide an exhaustive list of what needs to be brought at the time of delivery.

Here too, the obstetrician negotiates a ‘tip’ which collectively is no more than USD 100 to 200 based on complexity of the case.

One registers with the local children’s hospital after the birth of the baby and whose Pediatrician and Nurse visit the home every week to check on the baby and give guidance to the parents on dealing with the new born. I was again amazed at the neighborhood facility where babies are regularly checked and records maintained from birth. The services are free and nobody asked for tips!

The State provides a ‘Care Box’ consisting of blankets, sheets, diapers, clothes, bottles etc. to new born babies for free. It’s a hassle free process of registration and delivery and the quality of the products are top notch. Companies also provide sizeable grants to new parents. A government employee is entitled to 4 months paid maternity leave and over two years of unpaid leave. However, there is no paternity leave! Ukrainians still believe that raising a child is the onus of the mother with help from her mother!

Stork is a symbolic bird

The stork symbolizes the arrival of the baby