On the beginning of work in the Ministry of Health, the position of minister and criticism
Do you often get recognized on the street?
Yes, they often find out. And not only in Kiev. I was in Lviv recently, they also approached us there. Even in small towns. And I am very pleased because many people thank us for what we have already done and hope that this will continue.
Interesting! The scandal in the Ministry of Health: does Skaletskaya threaten the reforms of Suprun and her team
I was on a march for climate and on a march for animal rights. And also a lot of young people were there. They are looking for success in the changes that are taking place in the country. Many of them even ask if they should stay, or should leave.
Ulyana Suprun on an animal rights march in Kiev
I always say: you can leave for some kind of training, for education, but you always need to return to the country, because this is our country and we must build it. And without this future, which gives youth, there will be no future for our country.
We are now walking in the park. I remember very clearly that I saw you many times in the Mariinsky Park when you were still working in the ministry. You were sitting without security, just on a bench, with your backpack on which a blue and yellow ribbon. You are very different from other ministers. Did you notice this?
Ministers are people, like everyone else. They are appointed by parliament to represent Ukrainians. And I think, to be closer to the Ukrainians, to understand what their needs are. Just as those needs that are at the highest level in the country – it is important to communicate with them and feel for yourself how it is.
I think that those people who became ministers because they were appointed – they were appointed because they are such people. Communication with people, people's access to those who are in power – it is important that there is an understanding of what are the needs and what happens in everyday life.
I think it's familiar or not. In Ukraine, this is a little unusual, but if you look, for example, at New Zealand – as you remember, even the Prime Minister gave birth to a child while she was at the post. She took the child with her, walked the streets – normal. I think that accessibility will change the culture and relations between the authorities and people.
When there is remoteness, then there is no understanding between them. And now I see this misunderstanding a lot. The country is divided into two groups instead of looking for those things that are common between us. Everyone is looking for reasons why everyone is the enemy of the other. And this split in society is very unhealthy.
Almost the greatest attention among all ministers has always been riveted to you. You were often criticized, criticized by your reforms, and even your clothes – moreover, they tried to deprive you of your duties so that you would not work in the ministry. It even happened that your husband was beaten. Why do you think such attention was paid to you?
The changes we made are not only changes in the healthcare system, but also cultural changes, civilizational changes in our country. After all, what was happening in the healthcare system really provided people – both doctors and patients – with more independence, free choice. They took responsibility.
Those are all the things that are really needed to be more developed in our society. And so that there are more transparent rules about how this will all happen, and that there is much less corruption. And those who do not want to see this in our country are the oligarchs, these are Putin and our enemies who started the war with us. It began to go through oligarchic television stations, television and other media.
As you can see, who opposed us – Medvedchuk, Boyko, Rabinovich, Todurov, Mosova – these are all people who either work with oligarchs, or are oligarchs, or pro-Russian, or are part of the feudal system in healthcare that earned a lot of money.
Sometimes, when we look at the work of a person or some movement, we look at who the opponents are. And I think, when they saw who are the opponents of medical reform, they realized that we are actually doing the right thing.
On offering a bribe and evaluating the work of the ministry
Did not try to negotiate with you?
As you know, there is one case when people came to me from the "Radical Party" Oleg Lyashko and offered an apartment. In exchange for assistance to a particular hospital, obtain equipment from international donors. After that, I applied to NABU, after that there was a big investigation. Therefore, we are waiting for the case to finally reach the court, because there is already all the evidence that I was offered a bribe.
In fact, this was the only time I was offered something tangible. However, there were many other cases. For example, I was in the Verkhovna Rada during the “Government Question Hour”. The deputy brought the document and says that there is a person who needs urgent treatment abroad.
He asked if this person could be moved higher in the line, or even immediately sent for treatment without sticking to the line. And I always explained the rules that are prescribed in the law.
That is, I can transfer the documents to the commission, it will consider them and then the patient will be put in the queue, like the others. I will not change the queue because it is unfair. After several attempts to “agree,” they stopped asking these questions.
Are you offended that your ministry worked effectively, but you were not appointed a full-fledged minister?
They asked me many times whether the position of "acting" somehow interfered with me. You have already said how efficiently we worked. Therefore, in fact, this did not prevent us from doing our work. Moreover, this is already in the past and I will not return to this. However, I hope that those changes that have already begun will not be stopped.
The new ministry and the new leaders who have come are not working very effectively with the changes that we have begun. But I would like them to understand that those people who remained in the ministry are professional civil servants. And they can continue the work that has begun. They can be trusted.
Did you manage everything you planned to do? And what would you rate yourself?
When we came to the ministry, it was in very poor condition. There were not enough people, there were no opportunities, a culture of humiliation reigned. And many people worked inefficiently. For 24 years there have been no significant reforms. And in the three years that we were in the ministry, we were able to change our culture, recruit 60% of new people, carried out the most ambitious reform in financing the Ministry of Health, and the primary link has already been completed, we have created the National Health Service and are moving on.
We also increased access to medicines, there were changes in medical education, and public health is developing, which was not there before. This was all done in a fairly short time. I think a lot has been done.
And recently there was an interview with the new Minister, Mrs. Zoryana, and the same publication published my first interview. When I read, I was very pleasantly surprised that we completed most of the tasks. The only thing is emergency medical care, but most of what we have proposed we have done.
Also now, the National Health Service already exists, the primary link has already left, 70% of the hospitals have already autonomized and are ready for the next step. I would give us a fairly high rating. At the same time, we should not evaluate ourselves. It is also important to understand that all this I did not do. One of our great advantages is that we have come as a team.
And the team could work together, we had common values, plans and ideas. We, as a team, supported each other, there were good moments and not very. But this was also one of the most important things, thanks to which we became successful.
About the meeting with Skaletskaya and the situation in the Ministry of Health
Zoryana tells in an interview how you passed the ministry to her. According to her, you told her everything, she thanked you. After that, she complains, saying that your assistants and deputies left the Ministry of Health. And when she came to work on Monday, she was forced to cope with everything herself. Tell your version how it all happened.
I will first tell you how it was when I came to the ministry in August 2016. When I came to the ministry, there was only one deputy who was there for only two months. I did not have deputies because they had not yet been appointed. There was me and two or three people who came with me.
We did not even know where the cabinet, in what building it was, there was no secretary of state, there were no directorates, there was nothing in the ministry. I came and saw mountains of documents that needed to be signed so that medicines from public procurement went to the regions. In a week, we saw how it works.
We have already begun to establish our work and were able to unblock all purchases in one or two days and began to go medicine to the regions, began to sign orders, assemble working groups, I went through a whole ministry, I went into each office and met our employees. Then we gathered them all into one big room, talked to them, did everything as we could to arrange this work and continued to work.
As for Mrs. Zoryana. We called her, she also talked with us in order to come to the ministry, so that we transfer the matters. This happened very quickly, as we know, because on Thursday evening they appointed ministers, they took their oath. I was not a minister, I was a deputy, so on Friday I was still acting as minister, but not on Monday.
The new head of the Ministry of Health Zoryana Skaletskaya
My deputies and I saw that there would be a change in leadership, and we filed our voluntary resignations. Because we see: they don’t communicate with us so that we remain as deputies. We understood that they did not want us as deputies, so we submitted our applications to the new Prime Minister Goncharuk and invited Zoryan.
She came to the ministry. First, instead of coming to my office and talking to me, she went to the Secretary of State and talked with him for half an hour, although this was not what was agreed between us.
Then we invited her to me, I talked with her for several minutes, the deputies came. Each of us told us what our responsibilities are, what challenges and problems we have now, what has already been done, what needs to be done, what needs to be done immediately. Showed the transition book. And we all repeated many times so that she would trust and communicate. And so that it helps more so that those civil servants who are now able to do everything further – trust, they are professional people, trust, over time you will see how you will work and will continue to move on.
Suprun with deputies Kovtonyuk and Linchevsky
When we finished our conversation, she wanted to rest for a few minutes, because she said that a lot of information. Then she returned to the office of directors, each of them talked about their responsibilities. They talked for another hour and a half. It was time to leave, Zoryana got up and thanked for the work that we did. I told her that I was always ready to give her advice, help as best I could, I gave my contacts – phone, email and everything else. She said that I wish her success, and if there are any wishes, problems, call, speak and that's it.
Who is Zoryana Skaletskaya: read the biography of the new head of the Ministry of Health
And she left. And there was not a single word: you stay until Monday or you can be a few days. She did not ask us to stay. It was very obvious with us, it was very clearly understood that they did not want us there. That Monday we did not stay.
Did she call you?
Never. I didn’t write, I didn’t call. I didn’t ask anything. Like my deputies. Of the appointed deputies, we now know Mladen Kacurec. I may have just corresponded with her once, congratulated her on becoming deputy. She thanked. No one consults, no one asks us. I was at networking yesterday, there were a lot of people from the Ministry of Health. Those young people who are now in the directorates said that they have very little contact, they are divorced from the leadership.
They used to when I was in the leadership that they could communicate with me. Every week we met with directors, held meetings with individual directorates. It was a very close collaboration. And now, as they said, he is no longer there.
That the second floor of the ministry is closed to employees of the ministry, only the leadership can be there, well, since at the time of Bogatyreva. They said that it is very difficult to break through to the minister himself in order to communicate with her, because all her advisers are blocking her. And one of the worst things that they say is one of her advisers, Raimov, who is engaged in communication, that he blocks all communication even outward. Every thing.
Advisor to Skaletskaya Dmitry Raimov
What they even want to put on the site or on Facebook – he must sign and say whether it can be. Even those who are sitting in meetings and chatting with people there – and he comes up and asks: with whom are you chatting now. This is their personal phone number, they can correspond with anyone they want. There is such a huge paranoia for some reason that everyone is setting up a new leadership.
I would like them to step back a bit from this and understand that no one is setting anyone up. Those people who work in the ministry are professional people who want to do only what is right for the people of Ukraine, without substituting anyone. And it can relax a bit and allow the trust between management and employees to improve a bit.
About free time and future plans
Do you have more free time? Started to go to yoga, for which you always did not have enough time?
Yes, I got a little more time. I needed about two weeks to "move away" from the fact that I was in the Ministry of Health. And then I often speak on television or give interviews to ensure that our business, which we started, will continue.
I have a “busy” schedule from 7-8 am to 10 pm, many meetings, some rest. But I continue to wake up at 6 in the morning on weekdays and on weekends I allow myself to sleep until 7 in the morning. I’m just used to it already, because as a doctor, I always did it.
What are you doing now?
Now I have a little more time to chat with the girls who work with me on our Facebook. There are also a few more meetings about my future work. For example, there is one program in collaboration with Dmitry Potekhin, which is called the Dezinfo Portal. This is the so-called place where you can check whether the information on Facebook is true.
We work together to create a tool that will monitor such posts and determine whether it is true or fake. We want to create such a medical tool that will expose fakes. For example, some “anti-vaccination” posts or articles that write about some kind of “bullshit” and say that he can treat everything. Such an instrument will show that this is all a fake and it does not need to be trusted.
I believe that this is one of the biggest problems in Ukraine. After all, there are a lot of untruths, fakes and manipulations. We must find a way to distinguish between truth and falsehood. This is one of the reasons why there is a separation in our society – some manipulate others.
I recently talked on Facebook with Maxim Nefedov, who wrote: “It’s wonderful that you have changed the law on civil service and you can now easily dismiss employees. It’s as if a new leader will come who can get rid of civil servants that he doesn’t like.”
Head of Customs Maxim Nefedov
Because he has more than 30 thousand people at customs and he thinks that they are all corrupt and they need to be fired. To this I said that there are such ministries as the Ministry of Health, where we have recruited 80% of new, young and professional people who are good. Yes, it took three years, but we calmly changed people so that there were non-corruption people.
And it’s wrong to put them at risk of being fired. How will you then recruit new professional people if you cannot guarantee them a place at work. Well, besides, public service is not a business, it is a very responsible job.
In European countries, officials work for people, and politicians work for politics. Therefore, it is dangerous to constantly change people if they are professionals. During this conversation, Nefedov replied that I was unhappy because he is now "green." I don't care about color. It is important for me that there are correct laws and decisions for the benefit of Ukrainians.
In Ukraine, several things are still lacking: discourse, debate, and talk about what is happening in the country. There is a monoparty that decides everything, and there is no discourse on what should be and what should not. Perhaps the laws proposed by other deputies are needed. After all, we need a discussion process so that everyone can read the bill and then vote. It happens differently with us.
When we changed the financing of the health care system, we traveled the whole country. We talked with more than 10 thousand people and it was the same when we wrote the law. That there was a feedback from people that they showed us our mistakes. Some errors were, they were fixed. Мы вернули педиатров в первичное звено, потому что родители хотели этого для своих детей. Такие вещи могут быть, когда есть открытый разговор с обществом. Если его нет, то будет сделано много ошибок.
Казалось, что новая власть ведет с вами переговоры, чтобы вы остались на посту уже министра. Действительно ли они общались с вами об этом?
Я со своим заместителем Павлом Ковтонюком общалась с президентом и его представителями, мы объясняли, что происходит в медицинской трансформации и как оно будет дальше. Они просили, чтобы мы дали им законопроекты, которые нужны, и сказали, что они видят, что это правильный путь. И они будут продолжать реформы.
Однако там никто не говорил, остаемся мы или нет. Тогда у меня было несколько встреч с представителями Офиса Президента, несколько раз с новым премьер-министром Алексеем Гончаруком перед тем, как он занял должность.
Мне было откровенно сказано Алексеем, что Офис Президента категорически против того, чтобы я осталась на посту. Когда я предлагала оставить заместителя, то они были категорически против людей, которые были со мной в министерстве.
Были разговоры с ними, объясняли, как дальше проводить медицинскую трансформацию, потому что для нас не важно было кресло. Важно, чтобы работа, которая началась, продолжалась. Мы всегда повторяли: госслужащие, которые пришли в министерство, должны остаться и продолжать работу. Вся реформа, медицина зависит от них, а не от руководства, которое придет. Они все остались, никто не ушел. Они пробуют профессионально работать, но сейчас им не очень дают.
Опровержение фейков – это единственное, чем вы будете заниматься?
Нет, мы дальше будем заниматься коммуникацией. Будем продолжать с Facebook и развивать больше форматов на YouTube и Instagram. Хотим создать коммуникационную просветительскую, чтобы освещать вопросы по охране здоровья, медицине, экологии и образованию, чтобы больше заинтересовать людей для участия в общественном дискурсе. Все они имеют влияние не только на наше физическое здоровье, но и общество.
Когда в Украине каждый будет понимать права, требовать их, чтобы понимали, что мы – государство, а не люди, которые сидят на Банковой или Грушевского. Мы должны требовать то, что будет лучше для нас, наших детей, тогда мы будем здоровым обществом. Чтобы не было капитуляции – сдачи нашей территории России. Когда мы будем понимать, что это наша ответственность и мы должны это требовать, тогда мы будем здоровыми.
То есть те советы, которые вы даете в Facebook, скоро могут появиться на Youtube?
Да, будет в Youtube формате – будет более открытый разговор, общение с людьми, вместо того, чтобы только писать и говорить.
Кто придумывает темы для постов-рекомендаций в Facebook?
У нас есть группа людей, которые работают над этим. Мы сейчас много идей получаем от читателей. Много раз посты были реакцией на происходящее или активно мы пишем о чем-то. Мы сидим вместе и обсуждаем, на какие темы хотим писать. И готовим их достаточно основательно. Много времени занимает подготовка текстов.
Когда выйдет книга с вашими советами?
Мы уже начали оформлять, как оно будет выглядеть. Будет ли это один том или два-три по другим направлениям. Мы смотрим, какие посты были самыми популярными, чтобы их добавить. Также сложно, потому что у нас есть ссылки на статьи. Мы не можем их все опубликовать в книжке. Видимо, будет какой-то QR-код. Будет более интерактивно, чем просто читать книгу. Много вопросов еще к картинкам – какие будем вставлять, а какие нет. Мы уже работаем над ними. Я бы хотела, чтобы к концу 2019 года она была готова. На Новый год или Рождество был бы готов хотя бы первый том.
А вы лично придерживаетесь всех рекомендаций, которые даете?
В большинстве да. Каждый из нас время от времени не соблюдает. Сегодня утром у меня немного горло болело, но я съела мороженое. И вы видите, что я нормально могу говорить. Но это такие вещи. Да, придерживаюсь (смеется – 24 канал).