Remarks by Ambassador Yovanovitch at USAID/UNICEF Vaccines Press Event

October 5, 2016

Я дуже рада сьогодні бути тут з вами.

So I am really pleased to be here with everybody today, with Acting Minister of Health Suprun, Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Waschuk, and Mayor Klychko, and, of course, Ms. Barberis, the UNICEF Representative to Ukraine.

I’m gonna start with a really undiplomatic statement. But it’s important. Ukraine has fallen to near the bottom in global immunization coverage after three years of inadequate budgeting and procurements.

We know that vaccines are the safest, most effective way to prevent illness from infectious diseases, save lives, and prevent disability.

So, I am especially pleased to join acting Minister of Health Suprun, whose vision of healthcare in Ukraine is so clear and compelling and one that the United States is very proud to support.

As you heard her say, it focuses on much needed reforms to emphasize the importance of childhood vaccinations and prevention.

So, I’m very impressed that Minister Suprun and Prime Minister Groysman have ensured the Ukrainian people’s access to vital drugs and vaccines this year – or next year – by doubling next year’s health budget. And let me repeat that: doubling.

So, that will ensure funding for drugs to treat diseases, such as HIV and TB, but it will also provide adequate funding to buy vaccines for Ukraine’s children. That’s a real investment in Ukraine’s future.

It’s especially important to maintain strong disease surveillance and to vaccinate all children.

Last year’s outbreak of polio in Ukraine and a recent one in northeastern Nigeria is a stark reminder that countries need to remain vigilant.

Our support that includes $1 million in support of UNICEF’s polio response in Ukraine last year and $800,000 for immunization awareness this year. It’s important that parents know they need to bring their children for immunization.

In a last year, I mean to put this in very stark terms, over the last year, a baby born in Kyiv didn’t have the same possibility as babies born almost everywhere else in the world to get a vaccine against really terrible debilitating infectious diseases.

So it’s really great to be here today to see the shelves of the refrigerators stocked with vaccines, to see children who are coming to get their vaccines to be protected from these diseases.

So, we are glad there’s been a temporary use of international drug procurement. Clearly, it’s working. It’s showing that essential, safe, high quality health commodities can be bought at a fair price and delivered to the people who need it – in this case, Ukraine’s children.

So, it’s really crucial that the Government of Ukraine continue public procurement reforms and establish a transparent and fair Procurement Agency – a that’s a key component of the Ministry of Health agenda.

So, along with the Government of Canada, the city of Kyiv, UNICEF, other partners, we are really proud to be continuing to support health reforms in Ukraine.

Дуже дякую. Слава Україні!