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Ukraine needs reforms of the medical system

In Kharkiv psychiatric hospital two other departments are closed. The patients are partly transferred to other departments and are partly discharged home. About 100 high-skilled medical workers, who have the special preparation, will have to change their qualification and look for other jobs. The medical aid to the psychically ill, that always was good in Kharkiv, has lately much deteriorated. Day-time wards and departments of labor therapy do not work; the list of free drugs, which are necessary for psychiatric patients, has become very short. All this resulted in the fact that we, more and more often, come across with psychiatric cases at large.

Ukraine needs reforms of the medical system, as breezing air, but our legislators only speak and do nothing more.

Our informant

‘Prava ludyny’ received an unexpected present: the medical association of Nikolaev region sent us its informative bulletin. The most interesting material for us describes the attempt of the local physicians to protect rights of their patients. To this end, they compiled the booklet ‘Civil rights of a patient in Ukraine’, which we print below. In our opinion, appearance of such a document testifies that the civil society in our country is still developing, although with great difficulties and very slowly. Lately new organizations have appeared, which united people who want to protect their rights and interests. The protection of rights and interests of other people is a higher level of public organization. ‘Prava ludyny’ wishes success to the medical association of Nikolaev region and invites colleagues in human rights protection to further cooperation.

Civil rights of a patient in Ukraine

‘Realization of patient’s rights is possible on the basis of universal, correct and timely informative and educational work, patients must have access to the information checked by public organizations’ (Lubliana Charter, 19 June 1996).


As a patient, you have certain rights and guarantees of protection on the side of law. It is important to know which rights you have and what you must do if you need medical aid.

If you have problems with your health, turn to medical workers. They are obliged to:

diagnose your illness;

organize medical aid;

help to maintain contacts of the patient with the family;

facilitate your state in the hospital or any other medical establishment.

If you have any questions, problems or complaints concerning your treatment, turn to your doctor or nurse or other worker of the medical establishment. If the medical personnel cannot help you or refuses to solve your problem, you must turn to the territorial organs of the Ministry of Health. Such organs exist in any district town and region.


If you believe that your medical servicing is inadequate because of the incompetence or irresponsibility on the side of the personnel, you may pass a complaint to:

administration of the medical establishment;

the corresponding department of the executive power;

the ombudsman;

prosecutor’s office;

the court for protection of your rights.


incompetence or obvious irresponsibility;

drinking alcohol or its substitutes during work hours;

refusal of medical aid by the reason of race, skin, color or nationality;

refusal to show the patient or another doctor (by the patient’s request) any records, data or roentgenogram;

deliberate preparation and handing the distorted data on the state of health and the course of treatment of the patient;

prescribing supercilious analyses and courses of treatment;

ill-grounded attempts to promote selling services, materials and medications to the patient or for him;

refusing or ignoring the demand of the urgent aid, when it is necessary.


If your rights and legal interests are violated, you have the right to turn to the state organs, to the organs of local self-rule, to unions of citizens, to establishments and enterprises independent of the form of property, to mass media and to the corresponding officials with complaints, suggestions and requests. Such addresses may be oral or written, sent by mail or handed personally, or by your representative, and, according to the operating law, it must be accepted.

The organ or the person, to whom you addressed, has the duty to consider your complaint (application, suggestion, remark, request), to check the facts, to take the decision according to law, to ensure its fulfillment and inform you of the result. In handing your complaints and similar materials you must follow the order of subordination turning to the direct superior, or directly to the court.

You must know that a citizen, who handed a complaint, has the following rights: to explain personally the arguments to the official, who checks the complaint; to participate personally in the process of checking; to hand auxiliary materials or insist on issuing a request for getting such materials; to be present at taking the decision; to use services of an advocate or a representative of the labor collective or the organization that renders human rights protection function, to get an answer on the final results in writing; to request orally or in writing the observance of the involved secrets; to demand compensation of the damage if the latter resulted from the established order of considering complaints; to hand a well-reasoned request of the reduction of the term of checking.

You must remember that the term of checking of your complaint may not exceed one month, or, when checking is complicated, 45 days.

You must remember that an organ or an official, to which you turned with your complaint, is obliged to:

objectively, thoroughly and timely check your complaint of application;

invite you, if you wish so, to the sitting of the corresponding organ considering your complaint or application;

change or cancel the resolution if it does not agree with law;

take measures at once for terminating illegal actions;

ensure your rights and obey the corresponding decisions;

guarantee compensation of the material damage;

decide which will be the responsibility of the person, by whose guilt your rights were violated;

inform, if you wish, the corresponding organ of the self-rule or the labor collective or another union of citizens about the adopted decision;

explain the procedure of the appeal in case when the complaint is considered ill-grounded.

The observance of the law on citizens’ complaints is the duty of the Prosecutor General and other subordinated prosecutors.



Recently the USA has been covered with a wave of suits connected with medicine. Learning some cases from the American judicial practice one gets an impression that Americans are ready to fight for justice on their deathbed. Jack B. Weinstein, the judge from East Brooklyn, took a resolution in which he reduced the term of incarceration to Harold Hammond, an AIDS-infected criminal, giving the reason that AIDS ‘falls under the definition of a grave physical injury, which can lead to premature death’ thus, he reduced the term of incarceration to 13 months, although, by federal law, the term had to be from 37 to 46 months.

The USA Supreme Court ruled in June 1998 that the AIDS-infected without symptoms of the disease are protected by law on handicapped, and all medical establishments have no right to refuse their services to the AIDS-infected, unless the refuse is well-grounded medically (‘Yuridicheskaya praktika’, No.5, 1999).

‘King Harald and all members of his family must be serviced in all medical establishments in the common queue’ — such was the decision of the Norwegian authorities after an unsuccessful attempt of a member of the royal family to get to a doctor skipping the queue. This is the equality of all patients in the Norwegian way (‘Fakty’, 6.04, 1999).

13 years passed after the Chernobyl catastrophe and the frequency of cancer of thyroid gland has grown by 10 times. Among the former liquidators of the catastrophe almost all are ill, and their mortality rate is 60% higher than the rate of the comparable layer of the population. Meanwhile oncologists are reduced from hospital stuffs. There is shortage of medications distributed free of charge, and those, who need them, have to buy them for their miserable pensions. Additional pays to Chernobyl liquidators are not given, and the debt has grown to 800 million grivnas. Their treatment in sanitariums has been financed only by 22% (‘Segodnia’, No. 75, 1999).

A seminar was held in Kherson devoted to the problems of the observance of human rights of patients in Ukraine and the assessment of the legislation base aimed at protection and realization of these rights. The seminar was organized by the medical association of Ukraine and by the directorate of health in Kherson. In the course of the seminar reasons of abusing patient rights and juridical ways of their protection were discussed. A special stress was put on the necessity of popularization of these questions both among the patients and among the medical personnel.

The support of the given project is carried out in the framework of the joint program of the ‘Eurasia’ fund and the consortium ‘Superiority of right’, financed by the US agency on international development. The point of view reflected in this document may differ from that of the above-mentioned organizations.

Address: POB 14, 327030, Nikolaev - 30.

Tel/fax: (380-512) 37 – 22 – 66.

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