Ukrainian Delegation Visits Philadelphia as Part of USAID Recovery and Resilience Project

Flags of Ukraine and United States

Officials from Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska’s office, as well as the Health Ministry of Ukraine and directors of Ukrainian regional health authorities visited Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. recently as part of Public Health System Recovery and Resilience in Ukraine, a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The visitors traveled to Philadelphia for a weeklong mental health study tour and were given the opportunity to learn about the policy, planning and scope of services delivered through the public and private sectors. The visitors, who are decision makers in their own country, demonstrated particular interest in services for veterans and other war-affected populations, mental health workforce development, community-based engagement, team-based care, and integration of mental health and social support in primary care. 

“It was remarkable to witness our visitors' determination to focus on the future in spite of the war raging in the present,” Natalie Levkovich, CEO of the Health Federation of Philadelphia, a partner on the project, said. “Several times during the week, the warning signal went off on their phones through an app that announces incoming missiles and warns people to seek shelter. Their presence of mind and resilience in the face of these conditions is truly inspiring.”

The time in Philadelphia started with a welcome from Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. From there, the time included site visits and presentations on health policy, our local behavioral health system, Veterans Administration services, academic training programs for mental health professionals, and clinical programs for adults and children. Each visit offered a learning opportunity and led to reflection and animated discussion on the visitors’ part. Following their visit to Philadelphia, the  delegation traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. government agencies, including USAID.

“These were decision makers who have been charged with building public health infrastructure, including a system of support for mental health services,” Levkovich said. “Thus, this visit will influence and contribute to the future of public health in Ukraine and to their long-term recovery.”

The USAID Public Health System Recovery and Resilience Activity is a five-year project that aims to strengthen the Government of Ukraine’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats; sustain critical public health services during crisis; protect the health of all Ukrainians including vulnerable and marginalized population groups; and expand mental health support to war-affected populations. The project is led by Pact, a global NGO, and, along with HFP, includes Swiss Tropical Institute of Public Health, Overseas Strategic Consulting, Ltd., European Institute on Public Health Policy, the Ukrainian Coalition for Vaccination, Temple University School of Public Health, and Drexel University School of Public Health.