Our Perspective

Parliaments: bastions of democracy or power elites’ hangouts?

12 May 2017

image The British prime minister Winston Churchill once famously said that ‘democracy is the worst of all systems of government, except for all of the others’. Parliamentary openness is a key way to demonstrate that although we can never all be happy about the decisions that are made that affect us, that democracy needs not only to be done, but also has to be seen to be done.

It’s a busy couple of weeks for Ukraine. The country is presenting the glittery finale of the Eurovision song contest on May 13. And, on May 19 and 20, in Kyiv, Ukraine’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is hosting the 2nd global conference on open parliaments. Not as many sequins, perhaps, but a fascinating and important event, coordinated by the EU-UNDP Rada for Europe Project in conjunction with the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and partnered by a host of international and national democracy-supporting organizations. The Global Legislative Openness Conference brings together more than 200 delegates from over 50 countries, including parliamentary speakers, parliamentarians, civil society activists, and parliamentary staff to explore international experiences and opportunities in making parliamentary work more open, more transparent, and better respond to the needs and demands of citizens around the world. Topics being discussed include making national and parliamentary budget processes more open, combatting fake news with transparency, using digital technologies to expand debate and citizen inclusion, and using openness as a tool to rebuild trust in democratic institutions. The role of parliaments is at the heart of many of today’s highly-charged debates about how democracy should function. Parliaments are at the centre of democratic societies,  Read More

When Information Gives Power: an open data platform helps patients get medicine

28 Apr 2017

image Photo Credit: Daniel Sone, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Now, for the first time, patients in Rivne and Odessa oblasts can check the availability of medicines and medical supplies in two clicks on the E-Liky website, or through mobile applications. These solutions, successfully piloted by UNDP, oblast administrations and patients’ organizations in the two oblasts, can now be further rolled out in other oblasts.

Originally published in Ekonomichna Pravda on 27 April 2017 Olga is a 24-year-old Ukrainian mother from the Rivne Oblast. It was time for her child to get vaccinated, but you can imagine Olga’s disappointment when, at the hospital, she was told there were no vaccines in stock. But Olga did not want to give up. Back home, she started browsing the internet and found the eliky.in.ua website, with detailed information about medicine availability in public hospitals. The website showed that indeed vaccines were available in the hospital she had just visited. She called the Eliky hotline which confirmed that the information shown was correct, and that she had the right to ask for her child to be vaccinated at no cost. When Olga went back to the hospital armed with this information, the doctor had to admit that free vaccines were in stock, and Olga’s child finally got his vaccines. Olga’s experience is the same as that of many other women and men in Ukraine, who are often denied opportunities to receive medical supplies for themselves and their children.  The main excuse they are provided is that the medicines are out of stock. Until recently, Ukrainian patients had no way to  Read More

Only reforms can raise Ukraine’s human development index

13 Apr 2017

image With a Human Development Index of 0.743, Ukraine is now at the 84th place out of 188 countries and territories – down from the 81th place in 2015. This reflects reality in a country which has an armed conflict on its territory and is struggling to modernize its economic, political and social institutions.

Originally published in Ekonomichna pravda on 13 April 2017 Last week, UNDP Ukraine presented the Human Development Report 2016. The good news is that Ukraine remains among the “high development countries,” with some improvements like increase of longevity or time spent in education. The bad news is that Ukraine’s human development ranking downgraded, and is now one of the lowest in the region, and overall in Europe. With a Human Development Index of 0.743, Ukraine is now at the 84th place out of 188 countries and territories – down from the 81th place in 2015. This reflects reality in a country which has an armed conflict on its territory and is struggling to modernize its economic, political and social institutions. But what is even more important, the report reconfirms that there is no way back in reforms. Any further delay to address the problems of the country will only deteriorate living conditions for Ukrainians. The Human Development Report is like a photo of a person, or using a better metaphor, a body’s X-ray.  It gives a picture that can help establish a diagnosis and identify a cure – with an emphasis on the “human” aspects. The story of this report began  Read More

Neal Walker: Can health care reform succeed in Ukraine?

11 Apr 2017

image The United Nations will continue to strongly support reforms, anti-corruption efforts and positive changes in the country. Two years ago, the Government with the United Nations and the international community launched an international program to procure critical medicines for the country. Since that time millions of dollars were saved and vitally needed drugs were delivered in time to Ukrainian patients.

Originally published in Kyivpost on 3 April 2017 "If there is one reform in Ukraine that can really change Ukrainian society – a game changer for the whole of the country – it is health care reform. Yes, other reforms are enormously important too – from pension reform to anti-corruption to reform of education. Yet, for every person, there is a moment in life when health is critical, always when we are old, but often when we are surprisingly young, such as for wounded veterans or when unexpected illness strikes. Furthermore, quality health care and a healthy lifestyle for young people creates a stronger, smarter society that is more productive throughout the life cycle. Whenever health problems hit, whether we are young or old, all other problems become secondary and we need only one thing in the world – accessible, effective, high quality medical help provided by an efficient health system. Unfortunately, Ukraine is an example of how badly a system can function, not only in the region, but beyond. When we enter an average Ukrainian district clinic or an ordinary hospital, we can expect a lack of basic medical equipment, patients often must bring their own drugs, food and even  Read More