Gaidar wants Odesa to be suc­cess story

Kyiv Post - - News - BY OLEG SUKHOV [email protected]

ODESA, Ukraine

– Maria Gaidar’s fa­ther, once the prime min­is­ter of Rus­sia, dreamed of his coun­try be­com­ing a Euro­pean-style democ­racy gov­erned by the rule of law.

Over 20 years later, that dream is in tat­ters. Rus­sia’s lib­eral re­forms of the 1990s, which were spear­headed by Ye­gor Gaidar, who died in 2009, have mostly been re­versed by Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s au­thor­i­tar­ian regime. But his daugh­ter has now found her­self at the cut­ting edge of a move­ment to turn Ukraine into the kind of coun­try that Rus­sia has failed to be­come.

“I’m con­tin­u­ing Ye­gor Gaidar’s cause in the sense that I’m com­mit­ted to re­forms and im­prov­ing peo­ple’s lives, even if it’s dif­fi­cult and un­pop­u­lar,” Gaidar, also the great-grand­daugh­ter of Soviet writer Arkady Gaidar, said in an in­ter­view with the Kyiv Post.

Since be­ing ap­pointed as an aide to Odesa Oblast Gover­nor Mikheil Saakashvil­i in July, Gaidar has over­seen ef­forts to make so­cial ser­vices in the re­gion more user-friendly, trans­par­ent and cor­rup­tion-free.

But the na­tion still lacks a na­tion­wide roadmap to im­prove so­cial ser­vices, in­clud­ing health care, ac­cord­ing to Gaidar. Ev­ery re­port from for­eign or­ga­ni­za­tions says that “health care re­form in Ukraine has not even started,” Gaidar said.

Health Min­is­ter Alexan­der Kvi­tashvili’s re­form en­vis­ages trans­fer­ring drug pur­chases to in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, switch­ing from fund­ing based on the num­ber of beds to fi­nanc­ing based on the amount of ser­vices pro­vided, and in­tro­duc­ing elec­tronic pro­cure­ment.

In July, Kvi­tashvili of­fered to re­sign af­ter be­ing crit­i­cized for mov­ing slowly on the plan, though he in turn blamed the de­lays on par­lia­ment. How­ever, his res­ig­na­tion has yet to be ap­proved.

Gaidar said that the mea­sures in­cluded some nec­es­sary tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions but lacked a strat­egy for the fu­ture and a vi­sion for how the healthcare sys­tem will look like.

“I think it’s quite dan­ger­ous not to an­swer these ques­tions at the be­gin­ning,” Gaidar said. “You can be­come hostage to tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions that would lead you to some­thing that peo­ple don’t want. I don’t see where the health care sys­tem is go­ing.”

This con­trasts with Rus­sia, where a na­tional health care model has been al­ready cho­sen, Gaidar said. “There is a con­sen­sus there that they’re build­ing a uni­ver­sal health in­sur­ance model,” she said.

Gaidar was a deputy gover­nor of Rus­sia’s Kirov Oblast in 2009-2011 and an ad­viser to a Moscow deputy mayor in 2012-2013. She was in charge of so­cial sec­tor re­form in both ca­pac­i­ties. She has stud­ied at Rus­sian univer­si­ties and at Har­vard, and un­til re­cently was a Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader and critic of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Gaidar is proud of her work in Kirov Oblast, say­ing it had turned from one of the most back­ward re­gions in Rus­sia in terms of so­cial ser­vices into one of the most ad­vanced ones in 2009-2011.

Rus­sia has mostly scrapped the Soviet fund­ing sys­tem on which Ukraine’s still is based in fa­vor of one based on the amount of ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to Gaidar.

Another dif­fer­ence is that Ukraine spends very lit­tle on phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, with pa­tients hav­ing to pay for drugs them­selves.

But the up­side in Ukraine is that there is de­mand for change, as op­posed to Rus­sia, where “most peo­ple want the re­turn of the Soviet Union,” she said.

“Here, peo­ple are more ready for change and want this change, and they say ‘give us an op­por­tu­nity, re­move ob­sta­cles, and we’ll do ev­ery­thing our­selves,’” Gaidar added. “In Rus­sia peo­ple be­lieve in pa­ter­nal­ism and think that the state should take care of ev­ery­one.”

She said that the gov­ern­ment “must be­come a con­duit for peo­ple’s wishes, open doors for them, and re­move bar­ri­ers.”

But Ukrainian so­cial ser­vices are non-trans­par­ent and chaotic, Gaidar said.

“No­body can say what kind of free ser­vices the state should pro­vide, where you can get these ser­vices, and how they should be funded,”

For­mer Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader Maria Gaidar, now an aide to Odesa Gover­nor Mikheil Saakashvil­i, joins a hu­man chain wear­ing vyshy­vankas, tra­di­tional Ukrainian em­broi­dered cloth­ing, on Ukrainian In­de­pen­dence Day in Odesa on Aug. 24. (UNIAN)

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