| 21 February 2024, Wednesday |

Attacks on Ukrainian hospitals, ambulances increasing rapidly, WHO warns

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Tuesday that attacks on hospitals, ambulances, and other health-care institutions in Ukraine have intensified dramatically in recent days, and the country is running out of critical medical supplies.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, at least nine people have died in 16 strikes on health-care facilities, according to the United Nations. It didn’t identify who was to blame.

The figure included occasions where ambulances were commandeered for purposes other than emergency healthcare, according to Catherine Smallwood, the WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe.

“We’ll keep you updated on those figures. Over the last few days, they’ve been fast increasing “Smallwood remarked.

According to Europe regional director Hans Kluge, the organization is striving to quickly transfer medical supplies to Ukraine, where oxygen, insulin, personal protective equipment, surgical items, and blood products are in short supply.

The WHO’s main priority for the region, he said, are the availability of oxygen, children’s vaccines, particularly against polio in the event of an epidemic, and mental health competence.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a separate statement that countries bordering Ukraine that are hosting Ukrainian refugees should include them in their vaccine programs against a variety of diseases.

They should prioritize vaccination against COVID-19 and polio, as well as measles, according to the ECDC, because existing immunization coverage is insufficient to avoid measles outbreaks.

“Overcrowding in bomb shelters and reception centers could hasten the onset of a measles outbreak, especially as spring corresponds with the disease’s natural seasonality,” the organization noted.

  • Reuters