SAFEMed Receives Top Honors in USAID Health Systems Strengthening Case Competition for Efforts to Advance Health Equity

November 01, 2023

SAFEMed Receives Top Honors in USAID Health Systems Strengthening Case Competition for Efforts to Advance Health Equity

USAID’s Safe, Affordable, and Effective Medicines (SAFEMed) for Ukrainians Activity, in partnership with the National Health Service of Ukraine, was selected as one of three winners for the 2023 USAID Health Systems Strengthening Case Competition. The winning submission, titled “SAFEMed and the Affordable Medicines Program in Ukraine: Reducing Inequities in Medicine Access,” was among 102 entries from 31 countries and highlights how the program has improved the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of Ukraine’s health care system despite significant challenges.

Implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), SAFEMed supported the launch of the Affordable Medicines Program (AMP) in 2017 to improve the availability of essential medicines at little to no cost for patients. Since then, SAFEMed has helped expand and digitalize the program and continues to provide technical and legal assistance. Today, the AMP supports more than 4.5 million Ukrainians and has led to an average reduction of 85% on co-payments for medicines to treat chronic conditions.

The award-winning poster describes the program’s key facilitators in achieving these results. The AMP used a systems lens to address legal, political, and market barriers to lowering prices and reducing out-of-pocket expenditure. The poster highlights efforts to improve private-sector engagement, an essential but elusive goal in development. Since the government relies on private pharmacies and producers to ensure that medicines are readily available, it is critical for the AMP to establish a strong partnership with the private sector to lower prices and create systemic change.

The poster also recognizes the challenges that the AMP has faced and depicts how the program, with SAFEMed’s support, quickly adapted to meet the needs of patients during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even those in recently occupied territories. This includes shifting to allow paper-based prescriptions and giving internally displaced patients the ability to receive medications without a new prescription from a prescriber. To ensure that patients could continue taking advantage of the program, SAFEMed helped develop patient education videos, provided legal support in drafting regulations, and expanded data analytics, among other areas of support.

The successful implementation and ongoing resiliency of the AMP has allowed Ukraine to create a more equitable health care system, even in the most difficult circumstances. SAFEMed continues to help strengthen the program so all Ukrainians can access the lifesaving medicines they need.

More information about the competition and winners can be found here.