Project leader Martin Raab speaks on life, calling, and medicine


Entering the unusual shooting location, Martin Raab inspects the set and greets the whole team. The Ukrainian-Swiss project “Development of Medical Education” leader, with a smile, lets us know that the room is cool and modestly asks for a cup of coffee.

Operators adjust the light and attach microphones. A telling sign from Zhenia, the “stage director,” signals the beginning of the recording. Extraneous sounds subside, and shooting begins.

“I first came to Ukraine in 1999 when I was asked to explore the situation in maternal and child health care and how standards could be improved,” Martin said. “The delegation of the Ministry of Health appealed to the Swiss Embassy and asked for support. Then the embassy contacted the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), where I worked. That’s how it all started.

Interviewer Inga Bayer is interested in how a Swiss with a degree in biomedicine got into healthcare. Martin immediately picks up:

“Yes, I got a degree in biomedical engineering, but soon I started working more with organization of health care. We understood what was needed to improve medical services. In early 1999, it was about infrastructure and new medical equipment. Less than ten years after independence passed but Soviet Union standards were still felt in Ukraine. At the same time, the economic situation was rather bad; Ukraine could not afford to purchase the necessary modern medical equipment for infants and newborns. Especially for newborns in serious condition, because these cases requires specialized tools.”

We are fascinated by the story of the early 2000s in Ukraine, and memories are turning up to the mind; for someone it is childhood memories and for someone not so.

“Because I was considered an expert in medical equipment at the time,” Martin continued, “I was invited to summarize the situation in the country and find out what is needed to improve it. Then on behalf of the government, a report was written requesting public funding for the purchase of new equipment. Well, in this case, my education in the field of biomedical engineering was quite relevant. Then I received another education and a degree in health care, specializing in healthcare digitalization.”

“I used to be a journalist, and I will remain curious for the rest of my life because I will always look for the truth. Even having another profession,” Inga said. “And what helps you be an effective worker in another field?”

“You need to know a bit of medical engineering and mechanics, electronics, and at the same time biology and medicine. At that time, I had a broad education. And maybe that’s part of me – always knowing a little more about the field where I work. At first, when you work a lot with medical equipment and applied medical engineering, you quickly realize that it is not enough to install the equipment. Suppose you do not have a systematic approach. In that case, you are not using some equipment, or the equipment is not being correctly maintained or misused because there are no translated operating instructions. Therefore, you need to be interested in human resources related to technology, delve into logistics, and know the rules and regulations of equipment operation.

These are the first 10 minutes of Martin and Inga’s conversation. We strongly recommend you review this interview to delve deeper into the retrospective context of health care and the development of medical education in Ukraine.

You can view other issues of the medical education marathon here →