Safe, Affordable, and Effective Medicines for Ukrainians (SAFEMed)

Safe, Affordable, and Effective Medicines for Ukrainians (SAFEMed)

Resiliency in Times of War

What began as a pilot project to improve access to essential medicines has now become a vital resource for a country engulfed in war.

Since 2017, the award-winning SAFEMed Activity has helped improve access to safe and affordable medicines for all Ukrainians. But this mission took on a new sense of urgency when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Thanks to years of groundwork, the country was able to swiftly adapt and manage wartime challenges.  

A man moves boxes of health commodities on a pulley in a warehouse in Ukraine

In the year since the war, SAFEMed has helped the government distribute more than 11,000 tons of supplies worth around $461 million to health care facilities across Ukraine. We also helped facilitate and monitor the supply chain system to ensure humanitarian assistance can continue to flow into Ukraine.

SAFEMed has supported the MOH and its state agency, the Medical Procurement of Ukraine (MPU), in keeping the country’s health supply chain system intact. We helped ensure MPU’s digital infrastructure remained online despite widespread connectivity issues and expand the capabilities of the MedData platform, which now tracks the nation’s real-time blood supply as well as medicines and supplies.  

In the midst of war, we have not only adapted existing systems but also helped the government roll out two new digital platforms: eStock and MedSupply. These systems, along with MedData, will help further streamline supply chain functions, increase transparency, and improve integration with the health ministry, as well as facilities, suppliers, and partners nationwide.  

With support from SAFEMed, Ukraine’s Affordable Medicines Program has benefited more than 3.7 million patients and continues to expand despite the uncertainties of the war.  

What began as a pilot project to improve access to essential medicines has now become a vital resource for a country engulfed in war. SAFEMed staff and partners continue to support Ukraine throughout this crisis and work to enhance and sustain the country’s pharmaceutical systems.

Overview

The Safe, Affordable, and Effective Medicines (SAFEMed) for Ukrainians Activity is designed to support the Government of Ukraine in its ongoing efforts to reform its health care system and expand access to affordable and reliable medicines. With support from USAID and PEPFAR, MSH provides technical and legal assistance to strengthen Ukraine’s pharmaceutical sector. Our work focuses on boosting transparency, implementing cost management strategies, and supporting the decentralization and integration of health services across local and national levels. SAFEMed has worked with the government and local institutions on various measures, including the launch of a central procurement agency known as the Medical Procurement of Ukraine (MPU). The development of this agency continues to help reduce patients’ out-of-pocket expenses and further ensure Ukrainians can access lifesaving medicines and health commodities for HIV, TB, COVID-19, and more.

Following the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, SAFEMed is playing an important role in keeping the country’s supply chain intact and ensuring that humanitarian medical supplies reach the people that need them most. While much of SAFEMed’s staff has been forced to flee their homes, they continue to carry out their work in safer locations. Since the start of the war, MSH has helped establish Ukraine’s state-managed distribution of medical humanitarian aid, implemented supply chain innovations, and developed key partnerships with local institutions to close gaps in medical supplies and the health workforce.

The award-winning program works with the local government and partners to:
  • Systematize public procurement of medicines and health commodities
  • Implement sustainable management and financing practices within the pharmaceutical sector
  • Establish a strong pharmaceutical supply chain system that can be carried on by the government, civil society, and private partners
Accomplishments include:
  • Helped improve transparency and promote evidence-based selection of medicines for public coverage by establishing Ukraine’s Health Technology Assessment (HTA) department in 2019
  • Supported the expansion and digitalization of Ukraine’s Affordable Medicines Program, which provides access to essential medicines for chronic conditions at little to no cost for patients, and aided in its transition to the National Health Services of Ukraine
  • Provided technical support to secure the MPU as a financially independent and sustainable agency, which has helped generate millions in savings on centralized procurements and distributed medical goods
  • Established a model for last-mile delivery of medicines, in partnership with the private sector, to ensure HIV and TB medicines reach every region
From Procurement to Last-Mile Delivery—A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Ukraine’s Medical Warehouse: Step inside for a private tour of MPU’s warehouse with Branch Head Oleg Klots to find out what it takes to keep medical commodities flowing through the last mile.
Forklift Deliveries Improve Warehouse Operations and Raise Morale: To help regions better manage the influx of supplies coming in due to the war, the USAID SAFEMed Activity helped procure forklifts for regional warehouses. This equipment will help streamline operations and ensure the swift delivery of medicines and humanitarian aid to Ukrainians.
  1. Resources
  2. News & Stories

Health Technology Assessment for Evidence-Based Decision Making

In 2017, Ukraine began the process of institutionalizing health technology assessment (HTA) to optimize its health resources, ranging from medicines to medical devices, and promote evidence-based decision making to improve quality of care and treatment costs. Despite numerous challenges brought on by the pandemic and ongoing war, the USAID SAFEMed Activity has provided technical and legal support to help the country establish a strong and sustainable HTA function.

The Affordable Medicines Program Is Helping Ukraine Achieve Health Equity Despite the War

Limited access to medicines and care can be detrimental for those living with chronic diseases who rely on medication to stabilize and control their conditions. To help prevent disruptions in access to lifesaving and other essential medications during the war, SAFEMed stepped in to provide expanded support to the National Health Service of Ukraine to ensure the national Affordable Medicines Program continues to operate.

Supporting the National Health Service of Ukraine’s Efforts to Keep Hospitals Open in Wartime: Since the start of the war, SAFEMed has continued to support the National Health Service of Ukraine (NHSU) in its efforts to keep the health care system and Affordable Medicines Program functioning properly. Due to the work of the NHSU, hospitals such as this one in Chernihiv remained open and provided patients with the care they needed despite the city being under siege.
Leading Voices—MSH’s Rebecca Kohler on Getting Medicines to People in Ukraine:Since 2017, the Safe, Affordable, and Effective Medicines (SAFEMed) for Ukrainians Activity—funded by USAID and implemented by MSH—has partnered with the Ministry of Health to streamline the governance and management of the pharmaceutical supply chain to ensure reliable and affordable access to lifesaving medicines, particularly to fight HIV and TB. SAFEMed’s Chief of Party, Rebecca Kohler, discusses lessons learned as the program enters its sixth year.
Private Sector Logistics and Smart Cold Chain Management Boost Ukraine’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: In partnership with the Ukrainian government and private logistics company, Farmasoft, the MSH-led SAFEMed Activity helped ensure adequate warehousing and regional distribution for more than 1.2 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.
Rebecca Kohler
Rebecca Kohler

 Chief of Party

Project Contact

Rebecca Kohler is the Chief of Party of the MSH-led, USAID-funded project, Safe, Affordable, and Effective Medicines (SAFEMed) for Ukrainians. She brings over 30 years of expertise in global health working in key leadership, management, technical, and advisory positions in the US and around the world. Most recently, she served as Senior Vice President with IntraHealth International, where she was responsible for strategy, business development, advocacy, and partnerships. A seasoned global health practitioner, Kohler brings hands-on experience working on health systems strengthening, health workforce, HIV and AIDS, reproductive health, and maternal and child health programs in more than 30 countries across several continents, including long-term, resident assignments in Tanzania, Kenya, Eritrea, and Armenia. She holds a master’s degree in public health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University.  

Donors & Partners

Donors

The United States Agency for International Development

PEPFAR