News | MALnS

How was our year 2022 at MALnS

Our year 2022 started like any other year before, with a lot of tasks and plans that we had before us and, like years before, we believed that we would once again manage to improve the situation of foreign doctors in Slovakia at least a little. Covid was slowly fading away and we were dealing with topics that even the "world pandemic" didn't help us with. For years, the problem of non-recognition of foreign pediatricians (mainly Ukrainian ones) remained on the table, and the Temporary Professional Internship (which did not include practical nurses or the ambulatory sphere) remained half way. On the contrary, we have seen progress in a greater understanding of the need for foreign health professionals on the part of the state and health care providers. The question of their preparation so that they could handle the work, exams and subsequently also raising their qualifications was still unresolved.

However, all our plans were changed on February 24, 2022, when the Russian aggression against Ukraine ended our normal functioning. Since that day, we have devoted all our capacities, contacts, time and resources to help Ukraine and its hard-pressed population. Our huge advantage from the first days of the war was the fact that most of our members and sympathizers were from Ukraine or she knew the Ukrainian or Russian language. Already on the first "war" weekend, our team was at the border to see for ourselves the situation and needs of war refugees. From our members and supporters, we assembled groups of doctors and paramedics who helped directly at the borders or in the camp in Humenno and took turns in this work for several months. After returning to Bratislava, together with the AK Foundation, we created a large joint team of 15 volunteers and a joint telegram account MALnS / AK Foundation each of us can help, which concentrated in one place people and organizations willing to help (accommodation, transport, humanitarian aid, counseling) and on the other hand, a number of outcasts who needed just such help. A wide variety of people worked in our joint team, from Ukrainian entrepreneurs living in Slovakia to foreign doctors, "fresh" emigrants from Ukraine, Slovak and Russian volunteers. There were days when our team doubled for a short period of time and people we didn't know came and the only thing that united us was the desire to help. We started like everyone else by trying to do everything, we organized transport from the border, collected humanitarian aid, looked for accommodation, sent doctors to the border, evacuated disabled children from Kharkiv and the like. In such a hectic period, when many of us changed jobs and business for volunteering, we worked for several months when we divided tasks and focus within the team. Although we continued to sit together and share everything from the office to phones to cars together, the AK Foundation team began to focus on helping in the field of education and adaptation of outcasts (mainly children) in a new environment, and MALnS focused on everything related to the health sector . At that time, Ukrainian hospitals and clinics approached us with a request to send medicines and medical material, the lack of which became a big problem in Ukraine. After difficult negotiations with the Ministry of Health, we succeeded in a small miracle in April and obtained permission to procure and export medicines as part of humanitarian aid. However, after solving this basic problem, we also had to solve the question of how we can buy these medicines for Ukraine, since we could not get everything free of charge (even if there was enough of it). Addressing potential funders and securing the necessary funds became part of our work. Thanks to our many donors, to whom we owe our great thanks, we managed to realize this as well. As part of MALnS, we were approached with a request for help with the arrival of a group of disabled children from Kharkiv, for whom we provided and reimbursed rehabilitation and subsequent accommodation in Slovakia in addition to the travel.

A separate chapter was Ukrainian doctors and health workers who came to Slovakia as part of the migration wave. For these, on the one hand, we provided a comprehensive advisory service related to the recognition of their education, through partners we provided them with language training, helped them write CVs, and we also helped many to find a job. We also helped emigrants who had health problems to find adequate health care in Slovakia. In order to bring these topics to the forefront of the public and state representatives, we organized a Slovak-Ukrainian international scientific and practical round table on this topic in the summer.

In addition to all this work, we have not forgotten our original mission, which is to improve the conditions for foreign doctors and health workers. Also thanks to our activities, the temporary professional internship has expanded to include practical nurses and the ambulatory sphere. We also constantly drew attention to and at every opportunity brought up the topic of pediatricians, whose shortage has been compounded by the arrival of tens of thousands of children from Ukraine. Today, when writing these lines, we can state that we have managed to contribute to the solution of this long-term problem.

As part of the structural changes in the associations, we have added the word paramedics to our name, as they are just as needed as doctors today, and it is our effort to help them as well. We also have a new board and professional sectors. In addition to the doctors and paramedics themselves, several important Slovak hospitals and health care providers have become our members. We are part of the international project Med-Integro within the framework of Erasmus plus, which aims at a better and systematic integration of foreign health professionals, mainly from third countries, into the EU. We actively participate in the preparation and improvement of professional language courses and we consult on the comparison of curricula with the aim of faster recognition of higher qualifications of Ukrainian medical professionals (mainly practical nurses).

Looking at the year 2022, we can state that not everything went as we imagined and we reached a dead end a few times, but everything we did we did to the best of our ability and we did it as soon as we could was the most necessary. For all those hours and days of work, a huge thanks goes to everyone who participated in it or supported it.