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Ukraine Gets New Health Minister: Who Is He?
30 March, 2020
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The newly elected Minister of Health of Ukraine Maksym Stepanov during a briefing in Odesa, April 10, 2019 Oleksandr Gimanov / UNIAN

Maksym Stepanov will be at the helm of Ukraine's health ministry after his predecessor, Ilya Yemets, was dismissed after just 26 days of service.

246 MPs voted for the appointment of Stepanov. But it took the parliament two attempts to approve the new minister during the extraordinary parliamentary session on March 30. In the previous vote, only 217 parliamentarians out of the required 226 supported the motion.

This comes after the Ukrainian parliament dismissed Minister of Health Ilya Yemets who spent less than a month in office.

READ MORE: Ukraine's Health Minister Dismissed After 26 Days

Who is Stepanov?

Stepanov was born in Russia into the family of medics. He graduated the Donetsk National Medical University with a specialization in surgery. His second university degree was in economics.

From 2008 to 2010, Stepanov was the first deputy head of the Odesa Regional State Administration, but he was dismissed after Viktor Yanukovych came to power. From 2011 until 2016, he headed the state printing plant “Poligrafkombinat Ukrayina”. Under his leadership, the company began producing the country's first ID cards.

Stepanov returned to politics when he officially assumed the post of chairman of the Odesa regional state administration on January 12, 2017 replacing Mikheil Saakashvili. Two years later, on April 10,  Stepanov was dismissed by the decree of President Petro Poroshenko. Stepanov did not recognize the dismissal as legitimate and initiated a public conflict with Poroshenko.

During his tenure at the administration he worked on the creation and opening of the largest center of nephrology and dialysis in Ukraine. In order to implement a project to help people with kidney failure, he raised more than €1 million in investments.

Interest in Healthcare

Despite having worn many hats, Stepanov had showed consistent interest in medicine. In July 2019, accompanying a Facebook video explaining Odesa's achievements in healthcare, Stepanov wrote that "sometimes I am accused of paying too much attention to medicine."

"But how can there be too much of the most important thing – life and health?"

More recently, Stepanov was reportedly delivering products that help combat the coronavirus into Odesa. Anastasia Zhuk who works for Odesa's anti-crisis center in fighting coronavirus told Hromadske that the city is not prepared to fight the pandemic. When asked by Hromadske whether Stepanov helped them, she said:

"He really did buy everything he wrote about. Those things were really expensive and virtually impossible to get. Unfortunately, the region is huge and those things [only cover a small part.] But, overall, it was a real help and a real investment."​

READ MORE: The Medical Purchasing Scandal That Preceded Dismissal of Ukraine's Health Minister, Explained

For all the latest updates on the coronavirus in Ukraine, follow this link.