Interview with Dr. Nelly Ognianova, Healthcare Program Director

Dr. Nelly Ognianova

Dr. Nelly Ognianova is program director for healthcare in ABF’s Developing and Retaining Human Capital program area.

24 Hours: Ms. Ognianova, ABF expanded its work to include yet another area—healthcare. What kinds of projects do you support in this field?

Dr. Nelly Ognianova: To begin with, as a medical professional, I am really pleased that ABF added healthcare as a priority area after completing numerous successful projects in various fields.

Healthcare is always highlighted as a fundamental value, but, regrettably, there are some shortfalls in how this fundamental value is supported, both at the personal and the institutional level. These shortfalls include inadequate prevention, uneven access to primary healthcare and quality medical services, insufficient opportunities for innovative medical training and specialization for medical practitioners, and poor retention of medical doctors and nurses in Bulgaria. The projects we support aim to address these problem areas.

Let me mention a few examples of ABF-supported projects:

Village Doctor
With that project, the Practicum Foundation aims to provide medical services to people living in sparsely populated regions and hands-on experience to medical students during the final years of study.

For You, Close to You: Free Ultrasound Breast Cancer Screening’s mission is to reduce breast cancer mortality in Bulgaria. Their screening campaign titled For You, Close to You is taking place for the third year in a row and will cover almost 1,200 women.

Kelvin is a mobile thermal camera that captures the body’s thermodynamic processes and generates a series of thermograms. The thermograms are then segmented and analyzed with the help of AI-aided image-recognition algorithms trained to detect vascular anomalies.

24 Hours: What are your priorities in the healthcare field, and how will your support for projects help make a difference in Bulgarian healthcare?

Dr. Nelly Ognianova: I would like to point out the therapeutic priorities in ABF’s healthcare field of work. These concern socially significant diseases such as:

Cardiovascular diseases cause 67% of premature deaths in Bulgaria. For example, the Bulgarian Heart project developed by Checkpoint Cardio offers smart medical devices for remote diagnostics and online monitoring of patients with cardiovascular conditions.

Diabetes affects 500,000 Bulgarians. The Culture Without Borders Association, for instance, raises awareness of diabetes as a socially significant disease through its Diabetes Won’t Stop Us program.

Breast cancer is one of the most widespread oncological diseases and a frequent cause of death among women. BrestHelp is one of the projects we support in this area. Developed by the medical technology company Health and Help, BrestHelp is an app for breast cancer prevention, screening, and monitoring whose goal is to facilitate early detection and provide assistance during treatment.

Children’s health matters to all of us as parents. We support Za Dobroto Foundation’s Firefly project in this field. We are jointly renovating children’s wards in the municipal hospitals in Lovech and Veliko Tarnovo. Dobrich will soon follow suit in creating a welcoming environment to support the healing process.

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