31 attacks on health have been verified in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) statement released today. WHO reports a number of public health concerns with the escalation of military operations in the country.
Although the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and National Health System continue to operate, the country is in a health care crisis with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and conflict affecting more than 18 million people. Active hostilities, martial law (curfew), and damage to infrastructure and transportation pose significant barriers to accessing health care.
Furthermore, disruptions to the supply chain have diminished essential supplies of oxygen, insulin, safe blood products, and medications. Medical staff also face shortages of personal protective equipment, surgical supplies, and anesthetics.
With civilian casualties estimated to be 802 to more than 2,000 people, there is an immense need for trauma and injury care, including medical training, staffing, and supplies. Organizations around the world are rallying to assist Ukraine, from Doctors Without Borders providing direct medical humanitarian aid to doctors at McGill University conducting virtual training for Ukrainian health care workers.
WHO also emphasized the importance of continued vaccination and treatment for preventing the spread of infectious diseases, which displaced populations are particularly susceptible to, including COVID-19, tuberculosis , HIV, and polio. Other health priorities include providing continuity of care for people with chronic illnesses and mental health problems, urgent medical attention in case of emergencies, and mental health support services to cope with the stress, anxiety, and depression experienced during war.