Kyiv, 4 February 2019 – More than one million people are living with cancer in Ukraine, and 9.6 million people worldwide are estimated to have died from cancer in 2018. Today, on World Cancer Day, people, communities and organizations all over the world are raising awareness about the menace of cancer and encouraging its prevention, detection and treatment, but are also reflecting on what has been done and what else can be done to ease the burden of the disease.
“Back when I was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia it was truly difficult to get the treatment I needed so much. I found out that the state buys medication for patients like me, but that there was not enough for all of us.” recalls Ivan Zelenskiy, founder of the patient organization “Kraplya Krovi” (meaning ‘Drop of Blood’ in Ukrainian). “Now I hope that continuing the introduction of biosimilars would allow more patients to be covered and bring them relief,” he adds.
Starting from 2016 until now, UNDP has been supporting the government of Ukraine to procure life-saving medicines for Ukrainian patients, including within adult and child oncology programs.
In 2018, UNDP in Ukraine was at the forefront of procuring and delivering biosimilars to Ukrainian patients. That same year, UNDP’s procurement of biosimilars such as Rituximab and Trastuzumab – authorized by the European Medicines Agency and prescribed for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and breast cancer respectively – enabled the Government of Ukraine to save more than UAH375 million (around US$13.4 million) of budgetary funds and ensure that even more patients living with cancer received the medication and therapy they needed. In total, UNDP managed to achieve more than UAH700 million ($25 million) of savings within the adult oncology program in 2018.
“Not only do these biosimilars save lives of Ukrainians, they also make the market more competitive and the cancer therapy more affordable,” says Blerta Cela, UNDP Deputy Country Director.
“Thanks to the advocacy efforts of civil society, international organizations and the Ministry of Health, access to medicine for Ukrainians living with cancer has considerably widened over the past couple of years. We at UNDP are privileged to be working together with the government of Ukraine to help ease the burden of cancer in Ukraine, ensuring no one is left behind, and that they get the life-saving treatment they need,” says Cela.
Yuliia Samus, Communication Specialist, UNDP Ukraine, +38 097 139 14 75, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com