Ukrainians receive first medicines against botulism since 2014

Kyiv, July 4, 2017Shipment of the required medicine against botulism was delivered to Ukraine today. First 25 schemes to form the essential stock of the antitoxin produced in Canada were provided by the United Nations Development Program. UNDP supported the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and provided antitoxin against botulism worth 2,5 mln Hryvnia as humanitarian aid.

Over the last months, Ukraine faced an outbreak of botulism - 76 cases recorded since the beginning of the year, 8 of them fatal. Ministry of Health of Ukraine faced a serious challenge fighting the current outbreak, as there are no botulism antitoxins registered in Ukraine since 2014. Moreover, there was no budget funding allocated for procurement of this kind.

International organizations were asked to help resolve the issue. United Nations Development Program reacted and expressed readiness to provide humanitarian response.

The antitoxin, which is produced only by a few manufacturers around the world, was sourced by UNDP within the shortest possible period. High-quality medicine manufactured in Canada arrived to airport in Kyiv today, from where it is being transferred to the specialized warehouse of the Ministry of Health.

Current shipment will allow to form the essential stock, which will be used to immediately cover new cases that might occur. Serums will be urgently provided in case of need.

Minister of Health a.i. Ulana Suprun MD commented: “The delivery of anti-botulism serum will allow to save dozens of patients. We are grateful to our international partners from UNDP who managed to react to the situation that occurred and provided the antitoxin as humanitarian aid. I also encourage Ukrainians to protect their health and not to consume food of arguable quality, since it is much better to prevent the disease than to treat the heavy consequences.

Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Country Director commented: “UNDP as Ukraine’s long-standing partner in medicine procurement, has extended a helping hand to the people and Government of Ukraine in the face of the botulism crisis. Our expertise in medicine procurement has allowed us to source high quality botulism anti-toxins quickly and efficiently and we stand ready to continue our support to the people of Ukraine in their efforts to make sure that life-saving medicines are available at all times, at best quality and lowest possible cost.”

Ministry of Health of Ukraine informed that it has conducted calculations under the budget program for procurement of medicines against infectious diseases which are characterized by high level of mortality (diphtheria, rabies, tetanus, botulism, malaria). Centralized procurement of medicines against the above-mentioned diseases will become possible after changes to the Law of Ukraine “On State Budget of Ukraine 2017” are adopted.

Ministry would like to remind that prevention is the most efficient way to avoid botulism and encourages to refrain from eating food with not confirmed quality. Risk factors include consumption of dried, salted and canned fish, as it could have been contaminated under natural conditions and doesn’t undergo heat processing. Consuming should also be avoided if a person cannot be sure if the conditions of storage and transportation were appropriate.

Background information

Botulism is a food intoxication due to the consumption of products containing botulotoxins. The causative agent breeds in anaerobic state (without air) and under improper conditions of storage or transportation (canned, dried and salted fish, sausages, ham).

Media inquiries

Yevgeniy Zelenko, UNDP Ukraine Media Officer | +38 044 254 0035 |