Strengthening neonatal and obstetric healthcare in the war-affected regions of Ukraine

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The war in Ukraine has deeply affected access to and the quality of obstetric and neonatal healthcare. In an effort to support their geographical neighbours, the Polish Medical Mission initiated a special programme focused on strengthening neonatal and obstetric healthcare in the war-affected regions of Ukraine. An eponymous programme was launched and implemented in 10 hospitals within Ukraine.


As part of this programme, the trainers Oleksandra Balyasna and Eugenia Kubakh hosted a seminar entitled “Communication between Doctor and Patient: Foreign Practices and Ukrainian Realities.” Oleksandra Balyasna, apart from being a training coordinator with the Polish Medical Mission, is the founder of Ukrainian parent organisation “Ranni Ptashky – Early Birds” and a member of EFCNI’s Parent Advisory Board. The objectives of the seminar are

  • to inform medical staff in hospitals on patients’ rights,
  • to familiarise participants in the seminar with the basics of respectful and compassionate patient communication, and
  • to teach participants to self-regulate emotions and improve abilities to cope with stress.


© Medvoice / Polish Medical Mission


Overall, the seminar aims to enhance the quality of patient care for newborns and their mothers/families. By improving medical staff’s communication skills, particularly in stressful and emotional situations, conflicts between staff and patients will be reduced and more easily solved. Mutual understanding will also positively impact health outcomes as patients feel seen, valued, and understood. Moreover, better patient relationships reduce stress and feelings of burnout in medical staff. Thus, successful and empathic communication ultimately humanises medical systems, benefitting everyone involved in them.


© Medvoice / Polish Medical Mission


Throughout the seminar, the European Standards of Care for Newborn Health (ESCNH) proved an important point of reference. For instance, the standard “Education programme supporting parents and families” was used to illustrate why patients, medical staff, and hospitals alike would benefit from a reference framework like the ESCNH. It helped the presenters argue that adhering to a standard can positively shape interactions with parents while medical staff treat their baby in the NICU.


The online seminar was held between 17 and 18 January 2023 and lasted a total of six hours with lectures on different topics. Speakers with diverse backgrounds – law, health sciences, patient rights, women’s rights, advocacy – presented on a range of topics including

  • understanding patients’ rights,
  • cooperating successfully with the patient community,
  • communicating respectfully and compassionately with patients as well as
  • providing neonatal and obstetric service during the war.

How to develop self-care skills and manage stress was also discussed.


© Medvoice / Polish Medical Mission


So far, 1,607 healthcare professionals participated in the seminar and those who passed the tests also obtained certificates with credits from the Ministry of Healthcare. The recording is still available online for free for a year on Medvoice. The platform was chosen by the Polish Medical Mission as a tool for spreading important information with the medical and patient community. More participants are expected to take part in the seminar. Please note that the language of the seminar is Ukrainian.