War with Russia: Sick Ukrainians struggling to access health care — WHO

NEWS DIGEST – Ukrainians with chronic diseases are struggling to assess necessary healthcare due to the ongoing war in Ukraine territories, according to a health assessment by the World Health Organization.

The preliminary results of the ongoing nationwide health needs assessment indicate that 1 in 3 households have at least 1 person struggling with a chronic disease.

About 39%, which is 2 in 5 households, have someone suffering from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Similarly, the survey finds that less than a third of the 1000 respondents sought out health care services recently, not because they didn’t want or couldn’t but the worsening war situation in Ukrainian cities is limiting access to healthcare services.

27 per cent of the sampled households reveal that there are no healthcare services available in their area and are, for this reason, unable to get their medications and the appropriate care.

A little over a tenth of the sampled respondents have had to leave their residents to shelter with friends and family members in places that are deemed safer while some are currently displaced and reside in an IDP camp.

Dr Jarno Habicht, the Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine, explains that the war has imposed an urgent need for continued health system support in the country.

“WHO has been able to reach nearly 7.5 million people over the past 8 weeks with life-saving supplies, equipment and medicines,” he said.

But even this is not enough, especially in eastern Ukraine where the health system has suffered from increasing firefights.

“It is vital that we gain access so we can access health needs and more vital supplies into affected areas including Mariupol,” he said.

“Civilians have a right to health, even in times of war.”

The WHO said counterparts in Europe were committed to supporting Ukraine’s immediate humanitarian needs and will also plan for future reconstruction and rehabilitation.

“The challenges are formidable but WHO will work with national authorities and partners every step of the way, striving to achieve health and wellbeing for all,” said Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

Dr Kluge added that his highest priority remains to address the health impacts of the war in Ukraine and surrounding countries.