Copenhagen, Mar 8 (EFE).- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has placed the country’s health system under severe pressure, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
The war, which entered its 13th day on Tuesday, has already triggered the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War, WHO-Europe regional director Hans Kluge told a press conference.
The body’s priorities are to “ensure a sustainable system of ‘safe passage’ for the delivery of humanitarian health supplies to where they are needed” in Ukraine; that “that neighboring countries have the infrastructure and expertise in place to meet the urgent health needs” of the millions of refugees fleeing the conflict; and to provide support on immediate health requirements within Ukraine in western Ukraine, Kluge said.
“Life-saving essential medicines, such as oxygen and insulin, personal protective equipment, surgical supplies, anesthetics and safe blood products, are in short supply,” he added.
Two WHO shipments with 76 tons of emergency and trauma supplies, as well as refrigerators, freezers and ice are in transit within Ukraine, and there are more on the way with additional supplies and 500 oxygen concentrators.
WHO-Europe said it was responding to the most urgent needs inside the country by sending supplies, training programs and staffing through the mobilization of medical teams.
Ensuring treatment for people with long-term health needs such as cancer or diabetes is a “major challenge,” Kluge said, due to the disruption of supply lines.
The WHO said it “strongly condemns” the 16 attacks on health workers and facilities that have been confirmed in Ukraine in major cities and on the front line.
WHO-Europe’s head of emergencies, Catherine Smallwood, said that 9 people have been killed and 16 wounded in the attacks on medical centers.
“It should not need saying that health workers, hospitals and other medical facilities must never be a target at any time, including during crises and conflicts,” Kluge said. EFE