President Victor Yushchenko on Thursday visited the Shalimov Institute and said Ukraine’s medical sector needs “deep reforms” and should become “the nation’s priority number one”, according to the President`s press-office. 

Yushchenko said the state had been increasing healthcare spending by 28-32% annually over the past three years but added that Ukrainians, unfortunately, paid for “square meters, not for efficient treatment.” “The system needs changes and we can give even more money for this,” he said.

“On the one hand, we are speaking about how to reform high medicine so that it should develop, preserve its originality and feel the trust of the state… On the other hand, we are speaking about how to make first aid medicine much more effective,” he said.

Yushchenko said experts were now crafting four national programs to fight heart disease, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and cancer. He promised to support Ukrainian doctors in their efforts to resolve these formidable challenges.

The president suggested raising budget salaries by 37% in 2008 to improve the social status of Ukrainian doctors. He also added that those doctors who work in rural areas should be given a bonus.

Yushchenko praised the Shalimov Institute surgeons for their professionalism and role in fighting heart disease. “I am now in the hospital which is the leader in this branch,” he said and then presented his decree to grant the Shalimov Institute national status to its director, Yuriy Polyachenko.

He also laid flowers at the bust of the prominent surgeon Oleksandr Shalimov.