WHO analytical tool helps Ukraine monitor how regions respond to COVID-19

A new monitoring tool, developed by WHO and the Public Health Center of Ukraine (UPHC), is revealing how the different regions in Ukraine responded to COVID-19. Launched in October 2020, the Public Health Response Monitor (PHRM) was developed based on a regional tool, WHO/Europe’s Health System Response Monitor (HSRM).

The PHRM allows Ukraine to systematically monitor the policies and epidemiological situation across the different regions of the country. Using the findings, national and regional authorities can adjust the country’s COVID-19 response.

“We welcome tools that facilitate coordination and help us to respond effectively to the virus,” said Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Health, Viktor Liashko, who added, “We are discovering the opportunities of regional monitoring, which we will consider integrating into the daily work of emergency coordination centres to support our public health response”.

Providing insights into new outbreaks

Several rounds of data collection began in the regions in May 2020. The WHO Representative in Ukraine, Dr Jarno Habicht, highlights the importance of this information in helping national and regional authorities to coordinate health-related interventions, policies and messages to support Ukraine’s COVID-19 response.

“The tool could also be a useful resource to help investigate a new outbreak in a given region,” he adds, “illustrating, for instance, how relaxing public health measures and allowing people to congregate, results in high infection rates in subsequent weeks”.

Emergency coordination centres at the Ministry of Health and the UPHC can also use the tool to compare governance and financing arrangements by region, and see whether these differ from national standards and policies.

Reflecting capacity and leadership

The PHRM consists of a questionnaire with six blocks of questions covering areas including regional management and coordination, funding, planning of services, case management and supporting essential health services during the pandemic. Public health data is supplemented with data on the epidemiological situation in each specific region.

The findings so far show a considerable variation in the implementation of COVID-19 measures in the regions of Ukraine, reflecting regional capacity and leadership. The next step will be a detailed study of the measures taken by the regional authorities in critical areas, such as school reopening and ensuring access to basic medical services.

The tool facilitates in-depth analysis of public health information alongside epidemiological data. It builds on a joint initiative between WHO/Europe, the European Commission, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and the HSRM.