International | Doctors Remain in War-Torn Towns in Ukraine: "People Need Us"

Due to inefficiency, corruption, and the COVID-19 pandemic, Ukraine's healthcare system was already having trouble.



ZOLOCHIV, Ukraine (AP) — Dr. Ilona Butova nearly seems out of place as she enters what was once the administrative office of her hospital in Zolochiv through a door frame that hangs from a crumbling wall.


Artillery munitions have hit every building in the facility in the town in northeastern Ukraine close to the Russian border.

The hospital's capacity to treat patients has steadily decreased since Russia invaded on February 24 as a result of damage. Her crew has decreased from 120 to 47. Additionally, more individuals are now than ever before seeking medical attention in the small hamlet, which is 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the border.


Corruption, poor administration, and the COVID-19 pandemic caused Ukraine's healthcare system to suffer for years. However, the war has only made matters worse as a result of facilities being damaged or destroyed, medical personnel moving to safer locations, and a lack of or shortage of numerous pharmaceuticals. Doctors who have rushed in as volunteers or refused to flee are providing care in the most severely affected areas, putting their own lives in danger.

"It's incredibly difficult, but people depend on us. We must remain and assist, said Bulova, a neurologist who also serves as the hospital's administrator in a hamlet close to Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. She continued by saying that she had to accomplish more with less.


The day following the invasion, the World Health Organization elevated the situation in Ukraine to its highest category of emergency, coordinating a significant relief effort there as well as in other nations whose healthcare systems are also under stress.


According to the U.N., about 6.4 million people have migrated to other European nations, while a marginally higher number are internally displaced. estimates. That poses a significant problem to a healthcare system based on recommendations from family doctors and geographically distinct administrations.

According to Health Minister Viktor Liashko, 900 hospitals have been destroyed or damaged across Ukraine, and another 123 have been affected. We must now identify new locations to construct replacement hospitals.


At least 18 civilian medical staff members have been murdered and 59 others have suffered significant injuries, he added, while numbers of pharmacies and ambulances have either been destroyed or severely damaged.


The referral mechanism "has completely broken down in occupied regions," Liashko told The Associated Press. "The lives and health of people are in jeopardy."

The battle with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, which started in 2014, destroyed Kyiv's economy. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took office five years later, inheriting a healthcare system that had been weakened by his predecessor's policies that had reduced government funding and shuttered numerous small-town hospitals. People in those communities were forced to seek medical attention in big cities during the epidemic; in severe COVID-19 cases, they occasionally had to wait up to eight hours for an ambulance.

Drug supplies and medical personnel to dispense them have decreased as Russia has increased the region it controls in eastern and southern Ukraine. According to volunteer Andrii Skorokhod, "things have been quite difficult" in the southern front-line town of Mykolaiv.


"Pharmacists have not been working, and shortages have grown more severe. Hospital workers, including specialists, were evacuated. Skorokhod, who oversees a Red Cross project to give locals free medications, stated that we just need additional employees.


Vanda Banderovska, 79, had her home in Mykolaiv devastated by Russian artillery, but volunteers like Skorokhod managed to preserve her life. Roman, her 53-year-old son, was slain, and she was taken to the hospital with severe injuries and a fragile mental state.


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