health workers in ukraine

WHO verifies that Russian Strikes Killed Health Workers in Ukraine

The World Health Organisation, (WHO) says since Russia’s military offensive began in Ukraine on 24 February, it has continued to work around the clock to ensure a constant flow of health supplies, so that neighbouring countries have the infrastructure and expertise to meet urgent needs of refugees, also support Ukraine’s health system to meet the immediate health needs of people within her borders.

A statement from the UN agency entitled, “WHO is Working day and Night to Keep Medical Supply Chains Open and Preserve Ukraine’s Health System”, revealed that the current estimated number of people affected in Ukraine is 18 million with 6.7 million as internally displaced, with supply chains being badly disrupted.

The WHO further stated that it is currently coordinating with partners the provision of humanitarian health assistance, both within Ukraine and on its borders, and providing technical support and surge staff, and also supporting Ukraine through the Country Office, the Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen, as well as from its headquarters in Geneva.

“Many distributors are not operational, some stockpiles are inaccessible due to military operations, medicine supplies are running low, and hospitals are struggling to provide care to the sick and wounded.

“As the Health Cluster Lead Agency, WHO is working with partners to alleviate shortages of life-saving equipment and medication, such as oxygen and insulin, surgical supplies, anaesthetics, and transfusion kits to collect, test and safely transfuse blood.

“Oxygen generators, generators to maintain electrical supply in affected health facilities, defibrillators, monitors, anaesthesia drugs, rehydration salts, gauze and bandages are among the medical supplies WHO and partners are shipping into Ukraine to save lives and maintain health services.”

According to the statement, on March 5, approximately 600 doses of anti-tetanus toxoid reached Kyiv, and 36 tonnes of vital medical supplies reached Lviv, from where they are being distributed to health facilities across the country.

Furthermore, the WHO says on March 8, WHO delivered 10 tonnes of trauma and emergency surgery kits to Kyiv, to be distributed to warehouses in 7 regions: Kyiv, Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa, Zaporizhia, Zhytomyr and Cherkasy.

While between March 9-11th, 9 shipments of 10 tonnes each were dispatched to Kharkiv via Poltava; to Sumy via Poltava; to Dnipro; to Kherson via Dnipro; to Mariupol via Dnipro; to Mykolaiv; to Zhytomyr; to Zaporizhia; and to Cherkasy. Each shipment serves 150 trauma patients and 15 000 primary health care patients for 3 months.

By March 12th, 2 ventilators were delivered to hospitals in Kyiv and 14 tonnes or 52 cubic metres of trauma kits and essential medicines for primary health care reached Lviv.

“WHO is in constant dialogue with Ukrainian authorities. All supplies are distributed in close coordination with the Ministry of Health, based on WHO critical needs assessments, public health risk, service assessments and logistic capacity. The coming days and weeks will see a constant flow of medical supplies, as part of an effort to ensure people’s access to essential drugs and medical care.

“To support operations in and into Ukraine, a WHO support hub is being established in Poland. WHO has also scaled up surveillance and health information dissemination to detect and respond to outbreaks early and better understand needs, threats and health service availability.

WHO and partners have updated the Public Health Situation Analysis for Ukraine, covering health needs and threats to the population. WHO and the Health Cluster also launched the mapping tool 3W, showing who does what and where. Event-based surveillance activities for various potential hazards are also ongoing, including through Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources (EIOS).”

The UN agency explained that its mandate for the surveillance of attacks on health care is based on the World Health Assembly Resolution 65.20 adopted in 2012, it is reporting through its “Attacks on Health Care initiative” that as of March 12, WHO had verified a total of 31 attacks on health care between 24 February and 11 March 2022, resulting in 12 deaths and 34 injuries, of which 8 of the injured and 2 of those killed were health workers.

“More attacks are being verified.

“WHO strongly condemns acts of violence against health care. Every single attack deprives people of life-saving services. Attacks on health care are violations of international humanitarian law and human rights”, the statement read in part.

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