A more enabling environment for development is needed in Ukraine for medical chaplaincy

In Ukraine, the realm of pastoral care over patients receiving treatment in health care establishments remains unregulated. More than a year has passed since the establishment of the Working Group on the Implementation of Chaplaincy in Health. A draft Order of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine “Regulation on Chaplaincy in Healthcare” was prepared and agreed upon by the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations. Religious communities and civil society insist on the adoption of the necessary regulation as soon as possible to ensure an enabling environment for development of the medical chaplaincy in Ukraine. This topic became the focal point of the press conference held on October 7 in Kyiv.

Chaplaincy in health care is a practice (service) of chaplains who shall represent different denominations, shall have passed theological and clinical training and shall be authorized by religious organizations to provide pastoral care in medical establishments to satisfy religious and spiritual needs of patients and their families. For a medical chaplain to be able to carry out his or her pastoral work, he or she shall take theological and clinical training, and from time to time to take additional re-training. It should be noted that the National Classification NC 026: 2019 “Classifier of Medical Interventions”, approved by the Decree No. 677 of the Ministry of Economy dated 13.12.2019 includes a subclass 1915 “Other Interventions to Support Clients”, which, in particular, includes such interventions as “Spiritual Support” (Code 96187-00) and “Spiritual Ritual” (code 96240-00). In fact, it is medical chaplains that shall be considered the most competent in providing those types of interventions.

Professional chaplaincy began to develop more than 100 years ago in the United States. At present, it is widespread in many countries around the world, including Poland, Slovakia, the United States, Australia and more. In Ukraine, it is military chaplaincy that has evolved faster, however, it is necessary to guide efforts to develop medical chaplaincy as well. To date, the legislative process to establish a system of medical chaplains in Ukraine has begun. For this purpose, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine has established a Working Group to introduce chaplaincy in healthcare by the Decree No. 1321 dated June 7, 2019.

 “Chaplaincy is a ministry designed to help those in need. A key precondition to facilitate the introduction of chaplaincy in healthcare is to have a smooth cooperation between all stakeholders, and most importantly, between the state and religious denominations, and inter-confessional cooperation,” said Sergiy Dmitriev, Archpriest, Acting Chairman of the Synodal Department of Medical Chaplaincy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Chairman of the Board of the NGO “Eleos-Ukraine”.

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