The war in Ukraine is showing no signs of letting up, even though Russia indicated that it would be pulling troops back from major cities such as Kyiv. Artillery from Russia and Belarus continue to rain down on cities, destroying indiscriminately. Entire cities are being levelled and neighborhoods are being reduced to broken bricks and glowing cinder. The humanitarian situation continues its downward spiral.
The Ukrainian Healthcare system is being obliterated in the process. Even though hospitals should not be targets, they are getting hit anyway. Speaking at a news conference at the WHO Headquarters, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director general, informed reporters that “Since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s invasion, there have been 82 attacks.”
According to the last week’s World Health Organization’s External Situation Report on the Emergency in Ukraine:
There are many challenges to accessing health care, with active hostilities and a lack of public transport restricting movement. More than 300 health-care facilities are in areas experiencing active hostilities and approximately 600 facilities are located within 10 kilometres of ongoing conflict, leaving the health system vulnerable to infrastructural damages and severe disruptions of critical services.
WHO has verified 64 attacks on health care since 24 February, resulting in 37 injuries and 15 deaths. Further attacks are being verified. Interruptions in supply of medicines have been reported in cities with active hostilities. Some areas, such as the city of Mariupol in the south, have suffered critical shortages of medical supplies.
The overall number of beds available for patients with COVID-19 has decreased by 27% from 23 February to 23 March; differences are seen between oblasts, with the largest decrease (80%) reported in the Luhansk oblast, followed by the Volyn (69%) and Chernihiv (56%) oblasts.
Furthermore, the number of beds occupied by COVID19 patients has decreased nationally by 83%, reflecting potential challenges in accessing hospitals, limited data reporting, and a potential decrease in actual hospitalizations following the peak of the Omicron wave earlier in February.
The WHO remains undeterred and, to their credit, continue to support the remains of Ukraine’s healthcare infrastructure.
In addition, the dispersal of internally displaced persons is an additional humanitarian crisis that grows worse with each passing day.
Again, from the WHO External Situation Report on the Emergency in Ukraine:
The overall situation continues to deteriorate across Ukraine. To date, over 18 million people have been affected by the conflict. According to the latest government data compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over three million refugees have now left Ukraine for surrounding countries, with 59% of them in Poland followed by Romania (15%). It is estimated that over four million people could leave Ukraine and seek protection and support across the region.
The New York Times is reporting increased shelling in areas Russian officials indicated troops would be pulling back from.
IMAGE CREDIT: Міністерство внутрішніх справ України