April 13, 2023
Doctors of the World warns of the humanitarian needs of thousands of migrants abandoned in the desert in Assamaka (Niger)
The war in Ukraine continues to escalate, and now civilians must face another dangerous hurdle: winter and its freezing temperatures, which range from 37℉ to – 4℉. This is further exacerbated by Russia’s actions of repeatedly targeting civilian infrastructure, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. The WHO reports that there have been 715 attacks on healthcare facilities, resulting in 100 deaths, including a maternity ward that killed a newborn. Between October and November, Russia launched wide-scale attacks that seriously damaged the country’s energy infrastructure, disrupting power for nearly half of the country’s population. The result is disruptions in mobile service, internet connection, water supply and heating.
The energy disruptions also pose serious challenges for health facilities as they struggle to find alternative ways to supply themselves with electricity and heat, as well as communication so that emergency teams may respond to patient calls. The WHO Europe director, in a public statement, has stressed the severity of the situation:“the continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health-care facilities are no longer fully operational – lacking fuel, water, and electricity to meet basic needs”, and further emphasizing that “the cold weather can kill.” For Ukrainians, this winter “will be about survival.”
One of the key components in the DotW mission in Ukraine is to support the state healthcare system. With the support of donations, we are able to provide healthcare centers with live-saving equipment, medical supplies, hygiene kits, insulin kits, rechargeable lithium batteries, consumables, medication and more. In the Children’s Hospital in Zaporizhzhia, DotW donated a neonatal incubator. In the 47 weeks that we have been present in Ukraine, DotW assisted 117 health facilities and collective centers,and supported 886,313 people through donations. These donations have been spread out through several regions including Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Vinnytsia, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Zaporizka.
Alongside providing the necessary materials for healthcare facilities, DotW also works to deliver direct health-care services through our mobile units (MUs) in Chernivtsi, Kyiv, Dnipro, Odessa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Chernihiv Oblasts. The MUs consist of a doctor, nurse, psychologist and, in certain regions, midwives. DotW midwives are also able to reach out to patients by providing online consultations (270 have been conducted so far). DotW has provided primary care in Odessa Oblast and is working to continue scaling it up.
Mental health is one of DotW’s areas of expertise. In Ukraine, we are especially trained to provide mental health services to the adult population affected by the military conflict. Much of our MHPSS is conducted through the mobile units, where psychologists provide group and individual consultations, as well as leading awareness-raising sessions.
DotW psychologists also provide group and individual consultations at NGO centers, like the NGO Way Home, in Odessa Oblast. There the MHPSS team has provided 3 group sessions and 25 individual consultations. In Chernivtsi, group supervisions were provided to the counselors of the Problem Management Plus program, while in Dnipro trainings were conducted for the same program, so that after practice and with the support of DotW MHPSS specialists, 10 trainees will become counselors of the program.
For individuals that are unable to participate in in-person consultations, DotW has set up online consultations with psychologists. Overall, there have been 611 online consultations provided in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. At the end of April DotW launched a helpline to address the MHPSS needs of people who lack access to those services, which has already received 394 calls. Overall the demands for MHPSS are high, as many civilians endure traumatic experiences while struggling to stay secure in the midst of an increasingly violent conflict. Since the start of the war, on February 24, DotW has provided MHPSS services to 12,039 people.
Doctors of the World reiterates that this conflict must end and condemns the targeted and continued attacks on civilian infrastructure.