Family doctor Dmitriy Rozumiy struggles to bridge the gap between what his patients in rural Ukraine need and what the country’s cash-strapped healthcare system can provide.
His clinic in the village of Ivankovichy, 35 kilometers outside Kiev, uses Soviet-era medical equipment and lacks basic supplies. Life expectancy in Ukraine is on average five years shorter than the European average, according to the World Health Organization.
Rozumiy, 51, has worked as a general practitioner since 2014. Before that, he worked as a cancer surgeon but he gave up because budget cuts were causing late diagnoses and leading to lower survival rates.
His current patients are mostly children and pensioners. Many working age adults choose not to be treated because they often cannot afford the medicines that are available. Recently, Rozumiy said he has seen some improvements since the start of a Western-backed reform drive.
“There’s a desperate need,” he said, expressing a hope for faster change. Patchy implementation of the reform drive has raised questions about Ukraine’s ability to modernize after a pro-European uprising in 2013-2014.