The American Doctor Trying to Cure Ukraine’s Corruption

2017/7/19 11:25:37

The health minister was born and raised in the United States, but when she saw the rot in Ukraine’s hospitals, she had to do something.


By ANNA NEMTSOVA for the Daily Beast, July 18, 2017


KYIV, Ukraine—When U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hurried here to Ukraine’s capital after the G-20 summit earlier this month one of his goals was to speak about the “importance of implementing anti-corruption reforms.”


But he didn’t talk to American-born and American-educated Ulana Suprun, Ukraine’s health minister, who might have opened his eyes wide. She is on the warpath against a horrific corruption machine involving billion-dollar scams performed by powerful doctors and a pharmaceutical mafia. It’s the kind of corruption that corrodes the foundations of democracy, and can destroy it in a country like this, that has known so little good governance for so very long.


Suprun’s reform campaign has been one of Ukraine’s biggest hopes for success. If on his next visit Tillerson wants to take the time, Dr. Suprun says she would be happy to show him around the dark labyrinths of corruption that are here.


In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Suprun talked about some of the dangerous challenges she has faced while fighting for the reform.


It started about a year ago soon after Suprun first became the acting minister of health care. She walked into the crowded hallway of the oncology department at Kyiv’s Okhmadyt hospital. Children with cancer, some crying in pain, some terrified, were waiting on a long bench together with their mothers for the doctors’ attention.


The walls were covered in mold, which also threatened the fragile health of the severely sick patients. The fungus was so bad that paint and tiles fell off the walls.


“I would show Tillerson the Okhmadyt hospital,” Suprun told The Daily Beast. “The state has spent about 300 million UAH [$11.5 million] to build the new facilities for that hospital; 60 million UAH [$2.3 million] was spent on equipment—which disappeared,” Suprun explained.


Suprun, 54, is a tall woman with long blond hair. When we talked she was wearing black jeans and a black T-shirt emblazoned with a trident, a Ukrainian national symbol. People often recognize her on the streets and speak to her, but the former New Yorker walks around Kyiv without any security.


[…] ... -cure-ukraines-corruption



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