Ukraine Emergency: How To Avoid a Healthcare Crisis
24 July 2023
The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began on the 24th of February, 2022, has triggered a major health crisis. Since the war began, Russia has orchestrated more than 1,000 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine — the largest number ever recorded by WHO during any humanitarian emergency. With such challenges making access to healthcare and medical relief even more difficult, Ukraine’s general population may suffer long-standing repercussions.
IMANA is doing its part to deliver medical supplies and medicines to Ukraine, but with more than 17 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, the need for continuous support is urgently required amid the relentless war.
What Is the Current Situation Between the War in Russia and Ukraine?
There seem to be no signs of lasting peace between Russia and Ukraine. According to recent reports, Ukraine is testing Russia’s defense system by taking counter-offensive actions like probing for weak spots. While reconnaissance is difficult, the country is continuing its efforts with “partial success.”
It’s still too early to draw any conclusions, but with Ukraine’s “mountain of steel” weaponry, it’s safe to say that Kyiv is putting up a fight.
On June 11, the country witnessed the first results of its counter-offensive measures with attempts to take back parts of Donetsk. It was a welcome progression in its endeavors to retake territory from Russias’s forces in the Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia regions, and the city of Bakhmut, though Russia denies such claims.
However, it isn’t an indicator that Ukrainian troops are winning.
According to news reports dated July 6, Russia is still taking an offensive position and is said to have launched Kalibr missiles on a residential building in the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv. The nighttime assault destroyed the roof and first two floors, damaging at least 30 houses and killing at least 4 with over 30 injured.
How Is Ukraine’s Healthcare System Affected by the Crisis?
Based on a December 2022 report in PubMed, the unprovoked brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine has damaged more than 600 hospitals just three months after the full-scale war was launched. This number is likely much higher now as the conflict enters its 505th day.
Individual accounts are even more harrowing. The Severodonetsk Multiprofile Hospital in Luhansk, for instance, was targeted ten times between March and May 2022 demonstrating Russia’s deliberate and indiscriminate assaults.
Despite best efforts, Ukrainians’ access to healthcare is severely impacted due to:
- Security concerns due to ongoing military occupations
- Movement restrictions brought on my mobility issues
- Storage space and other logistical limitations
- Blocked drug supply in temporarily occupied territories
- Endangered health workers; many have fled the country to cope with the increasing burden of patient care while many have died in service.
- Infrastructural breakdown of healthcare facilities
- Mass displacement
Overall, Russian aggression has negatively influenced the medical system of Ukraine, bringing significant mental and physical suffering. Considering that a quarter of the country is over 60 — and thus, in greater need of medical assistance — Russia’s offensive strategy of targeting the Ukrainian healthcare system seriously undermines the human rights, well-being, and health of residents.
With an unlawful ongoing war and grave supply-chain disruptions, the shortage of medicine could have an even greater impact on Ukraine’s healthcare.
Can We Prevent a Secondary Crisis?
Due to Russian forces, nearly 1 in 10 hospitals have been damaged, causing the already precarious Ukrainian healthcare system to crumble.
To top it off, Ukraine also has the second highest risk of HIV/AIDS (in Eastern Europe). With the scarcity of antiretroviral therapy (ART), this could cause an infectious outbreak which can pose a global threat as displaced populations seek refuge.
While many countries have stepped forward to help Ukrainians get back on their feet, the ever-increasing medical needs of a country that is still recovering from the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic could have ramifications beyond its borders.
As large-scale invasions, strikes, and bombings intensify in Ukraine with every passing day, it’s important to mobilize relief. We must actively provide medical supplies, cash aid, mental health support, and essential medicines to those whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by the unwarranted invasion.
The International Trade Association reports that Ukraine is especially in need of surgical supplies, transfusion kits, anesthetics, essential medicines, and intensive care unit equipment. Despite the fact that regular operations in medical facilities have been suspended, there are some areas that have managed to maintain routine services.
To express solidarity and condemn the threat to rules-based international order, the international community must come together to support Ukraine. This includes assisting with the country’s capacity-building projects that will help them recover and reconstruct their infrastructure.
What Is IMANA Doing To Help?
Since the war started, Ukraine has suffered around 124,500 to 131,000 casualties according to an assessment in the document “Russia/Ukraine – Assessed Combat Sustainability and Attrition.” The good news is Ukraine — with the help of other countries — is now equipped to provide high-quality first aid to 4 out of 5 soldiers immediately following injury, which drastically improves their survival rates.
IMANA, through its “Help Ukraine Stand” campaign, was at the forefront of delivering medical supplies to Ukraine amidst security restrictions. In the wake of ongoing threats, our organization routed life-saving medical essentials via Romania in an effort to overcome logistical issues and continue to save lives.
If you would like to join us in easing the burden brought on by the collapse of Ukraine’s public infrastructure, donate here to assist with Ukraine’s medical relief.