On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) cautioned that Ukraine is facing its second winter amid the Russian conflict, highlighting a rising disease burden placing immense strain on healthcare services.
“We are entering the second winter, which will be cold and long winter and has also public health effects,” Jarno Habicht, the WHO representative in Ukraine, told a UN briefing in Geneva via video link.
Habicht underscored that the UN agency has seen an “increasing disease burden” on health care since the beginning of the war on Feb. 24, 2022, due to the war’s impact on health and public health.
“So even if the war would end today, the health needs of millions of people across the whole Ukraine will be high and increasing,” he warned, and said the disruption of the health system is “high.”
“While we were optimistic last year that restoring the health system can be fast, it takes time,” he added.
Citing the evaluations of the WHO and its health partners, Habicht said 7.8 million people will have health needs in 2024.
He said that they are aiming to reach 3.8 million people in that period, adding: “This is something where we need to put all of our efforts to reach to all of those civilians, many of those who are elderly, and children.”
Regarding attacks on health care, he said that the WHO verified more than 1,400 attacks on health care that caused “many civilian casualties.”
“And these attacks continue,” he said.