Likuysia Chatbot Tells Breast Cancer Patients about Cost-free Treatments

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Thursday, July 29, 2021
Public presentation of the Likuysia chatbot, through which patients with breast cancer can find a list of healthcare services for both diagnosis and treatment, and learn where to obtain these services free of charge. 

In 2017, Viktoria Romaniuk's life drastically changed when doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. She was prescribed Trastuzumab, a medicine that costs $2,272 per dose.

Viktoria could not begin to consider how she could afford to pay for 18 rounds of the treatment, but she was in luck. Fortunately for Viktoria, the Government of Ukraine had identified Trastuzumab as one of the critical medicines for which Ukrainians should receive cost-free treatment. At that time, only 13 percent of those who needed the medicine received it free of charge.

Understanding her good fortune and determined to help other breast cancer patients obtain access to the medicine, Viktoria joined with other like-minded individuals to form Afina - Women Against Cancer, a non-governmental organization advocating for access to life-saving treatment for Ukrainian women diagnosed with cancer. 

"Trastuzumab saved my life. I believe that each woman with breast cancer whose doctor prescribes her this medicine should receive it for free," explained Viktoria.

Soon Afina was tracking the procurement procedures of the Central Procurement Agency (CPA) of Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, often watching the process online in realtime. The CPA is a quasi-governmental institution established in 2018 with USAID support as part of Ukraine’s health reforms to fight corruption and increase the efficiency of the public procurement of medicines. In just two years, it has evolved into a potent, transparent, and fair procurement market player. In 2019, CPA conducted its first purchases of medicines through open tenders. At the end of 2020, CPA warehouses received 71,000 doses of Trastuzumab.

USAID support allowed CPA to fight corruption and better manage fully open and transparent procurement processes by adhering to international standards. It has resulted in significant government budget savings and a wider array of cost-free drugs for those who need them.

Yet not all Ukrainians know that the Government of Ukraine provides many medicines cost free through CPA’s Medical Guarantees Program.

In June 2021, Athena along with several partners, including USAID, launched the Likuysia (Get Treated) chatbot to let patients know that the CPA provides Ukraine’s hospitals with cost-free treatments, including to fight breast cancer. 

Likuysia is designed to increase transparency in public healthcare and prevent petty corruption at hospitals. Through the Likuysia chatbot, patients with breast cancer can find a list of healthcare services for both diagnosis and treatment, and learn where to obtain these services free of charge. 

“You can save a lot of money knowing what services are available via the state program. Likuysia chatbot links patients to such services and ensures that they receive what they are entitled to, free of charge,” Viktoria noted.

Last updated: September 23, 2021

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