Thursday, September 06, 2007


Dr. Goodheart heads for Ukraine

I doubt that any of my readers has been checking the Dr. Goodheart blog daily, breathlessly waiting to hear about the next adventure. Nevertheless, adventure it shall be.

For the first time since I left my regular cardiology position--shortly before Katrina hit in 2005--I'll be heading overseas. This time I'll be going to Kiev, Ukraine, to participate in a conference called "Children at Risk". Now as a cardiologist for adults, I do not take care of kids; nor am I a social worker nor an expert in the diseases of street kids. However, I do have quite a bit of experience in working in health care reform in the former Soviet Union, and some understanding of how totally and seriously communism messed up Soviet society for over 70 years. I also understand and can apply principles of evidence-based medicine to problems in health care other than cardiology.

Our first task will be to try to understand the current situation in Ukraine, compared with my last work in the former Soviet Union over five years ago. Our group--comprised of representatives from a number of charities and Christian church groups who have been involved in the problems of Ukrainian street children--will tour a juvenile detention center, an institutional home, and other pertinent sites.

I hope to meet with physicians and other health leaders to see if there is the potential for future work along lines that are of interest, and for which I feel I could be of some help.

My daughter Sarah will be coming along on this trip, which is great. Her knowledge of Russian is, I believe, better than mine, having studied it longer and being younger and smarter to begin with. It will be fascinating to see her reaction to the situation we'll be looking at.

If I have the time and opportunity, I will try blogging during the trip to give a picture of Ukraine as it stands today. A couple of years ago, when the "Orange Revolution" was making headlines, we who have wanted to encourage deeper democracy in the former communist countries were really excited. Now the situation looks more chancy. The reformers of the Orange Revolution have fallen into squabbling among themselves, and the pro-Russian party of Viktor Yanukovich, now the Prime Minister, may well win more seats in the upcoming parliamentary elections later this month.

With luck our next post will be from Kiev.
Tom Palmer suggests that divided government in Ukraine may actually be beneficial.
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