Doctors of the World warns of unprecedented health crisis
One year after the Russian offensive on February 24 in Ukraine, its people are threatened by an unprecedented health crisis. MdM takes stock of a year that seemed endless for those affected by the invasion. The NGO calls on the international community to do everything in its power to alleviate their suffering, to prevent more civilian deaths and facilitate the most basic services for their lives, such as health care to be provided.
MdM – Greece has been in the area for a year now and continues its activities. The European Parliament has awarded the European Citizenship Award 2022 to MdM Greece for its response to the humanitarian crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. MdM has so far collected over 100 tonnes of essentials (mainly medicines and medical supplies) and has already carried out 25 humanitarian missions to Ukraine, accompanying the essentials. So far, it is estimated that MdM’s activities for Ukraine have directly benefited 29,000 people, while the number of indirect beneficiaries is estimated at 2.3 million.
After a year of intense hand in hand work with the Ukrainian health system, the organisation warns, that the health system is at serious risk following numerous attacks on health infrastructures and due to a lack of medicines and health supplies as well as reductions in the movement of the population that prevent them from getting medical care.
A HEALTH CRISIS
Hospitals and health centers are working to meet the challenge of caring for sick people despite frequent interruptions of electricity, heating and the functioning of medical equipment. Moreover, the groups that suffer most from this situation are those who were already vulnerable before the war, especially the chronically ill, the disabled, the elderly, pregnant women, or people with cancer. Reaching health centers with the necessary humanitarian supplies is no easy task. Transporting and delivering donations of medicines and medical consumables is particularly complex due to damaged roads, infrastructure and the lack of safe routes.
EXHAUSTED MENTAL HEALTH
The numbers are shocking: more than 7,000 dead and 11,000 injured civilians, 17.7 million in need of humanitarian aid, almost 6 million people displaced within their country and 8 million if refugees. But many of the injuries caused by the war in Ukraine remain invisible. As its people continue to experience traumatic events with no end of the conflict in sight, the mental health of the population massively deteriorates. MdM is addressing the problem by including psychologists in its mobile units, which are providing health care to displaced people and other members of the population. In addition, MdM carries out psychological group sessions as well as mental health trainings to nurses, midwives, social workers and other professionals, and is offering support through a mental health hotline.
MdM is calling on all parties involved in the conflict to ensure unhindered humanitarian access. All violence against civilians and humanitarian personnel as well as civilian infrastructure must finally be brought to an end. Despite growing humanitarian needs, particularly in eastern and southern Ukraine, humanitarian access to Russian-controlled territories continues to be denied and it is near impossible for aid workers to reach the communities most in need. Humanitarian organizations are calling for the international community to conduct urgent and targeted advocacy on humanitarian access at the most senior levels and as a standalone priority.
MdM has been operating in Ukraine since 2015. Before Russian offensive, the organization was working mainly in the East of the country, providing comprehensive primary health care, including sexual and reproductive health, mental health and psychosocial support services in government and non-government-controlled areas of the oblasts Donetsk and Luhansk.
Since the invasion, more than 3,000 internationally displaced persons in Greece have received support and health services in Athens and Thessaloniki (including housing, social counselling, psychological support, liaison with the NHS and the Public Administration, and distribution of basic necessities and food aid). So far, more than 15,000 people have directly benefited from MdM intervention activities, while the indirect beneficiaries are estimated at around 500,000.
MdM continues to be present wherever people are, next to those in need, responding immediately to any new emergency or non-humanitarian crisis. A Greek MdM mission is also currently in Turkey, alongside our colleagues, supporting the staff there in every way possible.