Implementation in a Time of Crisis: LMG/Ukraine Undeterred

 {Photo credit: Alisher Latypov/MSH}Representatives from the German Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) facilitating a communications workshop with the Ukrainian Center for Socially Dangerous Disease Control, in partnership with LMG-Ukraine.Photo credit: Alisher Latypov/MSH

In November 2013, Ukrainians took to the streets in Kyiv, claiming Maidan Square to protest corruption and to demand the signature of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, rejected by the now ex-Ukrainian President Yanukovich.  By the beginning of 2014, the situation reached a boiling point and the riots in Kyiv were turning into full-blown urban warfare.

Amidst this turmoil, USAID’s Leadership, Management and Governance (LMG) project in Ukraine continued to implement activities designed to develop the capacity of the Ukrainian Center for Socially Dangerous Disease Control (UCDC) as a Global Fund Principal Recipient and key player in the public health system. The UCDC was established in October 2012 to “better coordinate and streamline the management of national efforts” to control HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and other infectious diseases in the Ukraine.

In late February 2014, President Yanukovich disappeared and an interim president was appointed.  The Russian Parliament authorized the use of military force in Crimea and unrest ensued. That same day, the LMG Project was conducting a workshop with UCDC to develop a three-year institutional strategy to better define and advocate for UCDC’s role within the public health system.  As word reached the workshop, concern grew but participants remained committed to completing the development of the strategy.

With a temporary government and looming escalated conflict, planning for the long term became difficult. Leaders with the LMG Project and UCDC adapted to the situation and developed a shorter term, one-year priority plan focusing on building core capacities for programmatic and organizational sustainability and resiliency, supported by improved advocacy and resource mobilization. 

Adapting for Sustainability and Resiliency

For the past year, UCDC has been operating in crisis mode, which has made for a challenging work environment. Since the beginning of the unrest in Ukraine, the eastern region has descended into a full-blown military conflict, which is worsening an already difficult situation in a region with the highest rate of new HIV cases and drug use in the country. Nonetheless, progress is being made. In these ever-changing circumstances, the UCDC used the institutional strategy to guide their meetings at the Ministry of Health to advocate for their role in Ukraine’s reformed public health system. 

The LMG Project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) with a consortium of partners, has been able to provide strategic support to UCDC in a number of key areas, including human resources, finance, and communications, in a time of uncertainty. By working together to ensure that the vision and goals of UCDC are receiving the attention they deserve, UCDC is becoming more resilient and sustainable. In a time of conflict when Ukraine’s health system is badly damaged in the east, UCDC’s role is critical to ensure a well-functioning public health system.

As noted by the head of UCDC’s Procurement and Supply Unit:

When it comes to life-saving HIV medications, it is the duty of each one of us to ensure that they are available to people who need them regardless of any challenges and confrontations in the areas of conflict.

It is in such a context that the LMG Project continues to provide technical assistance in this time of crisis, undeterred and focused on the goal of supporting UCDC to fulfill its mandate for public health.