Ukraine has made significant strides in the past several years in gaining recognition for the need to professionalize physical therapy, building a culture of evidence-based practice, orienting national law to include rehabilitation as a service for all and not just for persons with disability status, and incrementally incorporating rehabilitation services into secondary-care levels.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Health is spearheading a number of health reforms with the support of international partners such as USAID and WHO, and current Ministry of Health leadership appear committed to implementing change, providing a crucial opportunity to ensure that rehabilitation systems are part of broader health system reform.
As Ukraine continues its health reform efforts, ReLAB-HS will build on national and global momentum to support the further integration of rehabilitation and assistive technology services within the framework of evidence-based international standards and best practices. ReLAB-HS partner Momentum Wheels for Humanity, which has more than a decade of experience supporting rehabilitation and assistive technology service provision in Ukraine, will lead project implementation in the country.
ReLAB-HS activities in Ukraine will align with the work currently being done through USAID, WHO and other donor-funded initiatives to strengthen the provision of rehabilitation services, including assistive technologies.
The project will work closely with relevant national and subnational actors at all health-care levels in the project catchment area to collaboratively implement and evaluate assistive technology-inclusive rehabilitation service delivery models, support rehabilitation sector leaders to catalyze and strengthen a national agenda for rehabilitation in the health system, support workforce capacity development to improve rehabilitation care, generate new evidence about the integration of rehabilitation into health systems, and engage with stakeholders to use this new evidence for policy and planning.
The ReLAB-HS prime, Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit, has extensive experience of working in countries around the world on research as well as delivering public health programs. In Ukraine, the JH-IIRU team is currently active in the areas of road safety and tobacco control, collaborating with key stakeholders within and outside the government to develop and implement sustainable solutions aimed at improving public health.
Momentum Wheels for Humanity has worked for over 20 years in Ukraine, providing high-quality, low-cost assistive products from the local distribution hub. Momentum Wheels currently leads the Strengthening Rehabilitation Services within Health Systems (SRSHS) project, which continues USAID-funded rehabilitation efforts within health institutions. ReLAB-HS activities in Ukraine will be implemented at the regional level, where UCP Wheels has strengthened capacity at the secondary and tertiary healthcare levels. SRSHS develops skills and establishes clinical protocols in centers of excellence, which can be leveraged to support service delivery via the telerehabilitation pilot. Through SRSHS, UCP Wheels has already established relationships with all the district and ministry level contacts overseeing assistive technology and rehabilitation. As such, UCP Wheels is well placed to invite these stakeholders to participate in the ReLAB-HS Leadership Academy and other activities.
Physiopedia partners with organisations in over 30 countries to collaborate on workforce development activities. In Ukraine, national physiotherapy and occupational therapy organisations use Physiopedia online learning opportunities to advance the knowledge of their members. ReLAB-HS will work closely with these and similar organisations to develop and deepen rehabilitation workforce development activities through digital transformation initiatives in line with the Ministry of Health recommendations.