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Ukraine: crisis for people with chronic diseases

Published on 25/04/22 at 09:11am

Preliminary results from an ongoing nationwide health needs assessment, conducted by WHO in partnership with Premise, indicate that one in three households with at least one person living with a chronic disease reported challenges accessing care.

Of the 1,000 households that have responded so far, 30% reported challenges accessing secure medication and care for their chronic conditions, and two in five (39%) contain at least one member with a chronic illness, with illnesses including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. 

“Two months into the war, our findings show the urgent need for continued health system support in Ukraine,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine. 

“Through our long-standing engagement with the Ministry of Health, national health institutions and our many partners and donors, WHO has been able to reach nearly 7.5 million people over the past 8 weeks with life-saving supplies, equipment and medicines. But we are still unable to reach some of the hardest-hit areas in the east where the health system has all but collapsed. We have received reports, for instance, that nearly all health facilities and hospitals in Luhansk oblast are either damaged or destroyed, and the situation is critical in several others. It is vital that we gain access so we can assess health needs and move vital supplies into affected areas, including Mariupol. Civilians have a right to health, even in times of war.”

Less than one third of all respondents sought out healthcare services recently, and of those, 39% cited the security situation as the main reason, while 27% reported that no healthcare services were available at all in their area.

Ukraine’s health system is currently under severe pressure, facing attacks on healthcare, while many are battling numerous challenges accessing facilities. The risk of infectious diseases is significant, and the risk of waterborne diseases is an increasing threat. Routine immunisation including COVID-19 vaccination has diminished because of the war, WHO reported.

Ana Ovey

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