Doctors Without Borders is responding to the unfolding crisis in Ukraine
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How we are responding in Ukraine
After weeks of speculation, Russian forces launched attacks on multiple cities in late February 2022. Millions of Ukrainians are now at risk.
Increasingly urgent requests for medical supplies are coming in from many hospitals and health facilities in the more war-affected parts of Ukraine. Doctors Without Borders is seeking ways to donate what is needed, where it is needed.
More Doctors Without Borders international supplies are coming into Ukraine to enable more medical re-supply actions. And conflict-experienced Doctors Without Borders medical teams are starting to arrive in Ukraine.
Our teams are preparing for a range of scenarios which will allow us to step up our response, including providing surgical care, emergency medicine and mental health support for displaced people. Our current response includes:
- Sending experienced medical staff to Ukraine to support our existing teams;
- Sending new cargo shipments of emergency medical supplies to Ukraine;
- Supporting hospitals and doctors remotely, including via telemedicine;
- Donating medical stocks for emergency surgery and trauma care;
- Preparing warehouses and transport for our supplies;
- Assessing needs in the country and the possibility to reach cities such as Odessa, Mykolaiv or Kherson.
- CENTRAL UKRAINE
Doctors Without Borders’s team in Hostomel and other areas on the outskirts of Kyiv, continues to support basic healthcare in alongside Ukrainian doctors and nurses. We have also intensified our mental health support and are looking to further scale up this aspect of our work in the area.
In the city of Kyiv, we decided to end our activities by the end of July. Humanitarian situation and acute needs related to the conflict have recovered significantly, although gaps and barriers for the communities to access health care that they need remain due to economic or systemic (pre-conflict) issues. Mental health care is one of the most critical gaps for which the team is advancing efforts to advocate to other humanitarian actors to establish longer term programs. This also applies to our activities in Chernihiv.
As part of our collaboration with Ministry of Reintegration and Temporarily Occupied Territories, we are providing mental health training to the call centre personnel. The call centre is run by the Ministry in order to respond to the needs of IDPs and the populations remained in the non-government-controlled areas (NGCA) in Ukraine.
Doctors Without Borders team is doing medical donations, trainings for health workers and first line responders, distributing relief items in IDP shelters and carrying out psychoeducation sessions with groups of displaced people and individual mental health consultations both in the town and peripheral areas. We are also supporting a maternity hospital to make more accessible services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and helping with the payment of medication and transportation for the patients.
- NORTHERN UKRAINE
Following the developments of the security context and subsequent resumption of the functioning of the underground system, Doctors Without Borders ‘underground’ activities have been moved above ground and restructured to assist people who have no home to go back to and/or still need medical support. Inside Kharkiv, we are currently supporting the city’s displaced people at various locations via mobile clinics. While some of the clinic activities are carried out in the locations of volunteer networks, some others are conducted in dormitories assigned for IDPs. However, the strikes in the city (and in the surrounding areas) have intensified again in the last weeks, which causes interruption of activities.
Kharkiv city continues to receive shelling on a daily basis. Although they appear to be rather targeted attacks, the trends and precise details remain challenging. Meanwhile, many areas in the north remained out of reach due to security reasons this week. However, our teams were able to visit 11 locations, conducting 17 mobile clinics inside and outside the city between 11th July and 24 July.
Outside the city: We have started regular visits to two shelters in Donets and two other shelters in Slobozhanske, providing medical consultations and mental health support. We are also continuing movements to remote villages in Kharkiv oblast, focusing initially on the Chuhuiv and Pecheniy axes, to conduct explos and mobile clinics, to build connections and provide donations.
In & Out: we operate a hotline for the city and the oblast to respond to ongoing needs for medications and online medical and psychological consultations. We have agreed to collaborate with a volunteer network for pick-up from our warehouse and distribution to people’s homes.
In Chernihiv, we decided to end our activities by the end of July. Humanitarian situation and acute needs related to the conflict have recovered significantly, although gaps and barriers for the communities to access health care that they need remain due to economic or systemic (pre-conflict) issues. Mental health care is one of the most critical gaps, for which the team is advocating to other humanitarian actors to establish longer term programs.
In Zhytomyr, Doctors Without Borders teams continue to provide social support (food parcels and hygiene kits) and psychological support to all active TB patients to help them to keep taking their medication correctly and complete treatment. We also transport samples to the TB hospital for testing so that patients’ progress can be monitored. At the same time, we continue to support the regional TB Hospital by providing them with TB and other drugs as well as laboratory consumables and food for patients.
- WESTERN UKRIANE
UZHHOROD AND IVANO-FRANKIVSK
We have carried out trainings with local health professionals, including on mental health for psychologists and first responders, and have started group therapy sessions and individual mental health consultations with internally displaced people.
In Ivano-Frankivsk we are supporting a clinic focusing on IDP patients run by doctors who are displaced from the conflict themselves and in Uzhhorod we are running a mobile clinic focusing on displaced people who are staying in public shelters.
We keep doing donations to health facilities in these two locations and distributing non-food item (NFI) kits for displaced people, particularly in nearby rural areas.
In mid-June Doctors Without Borders team obtained official permission to access a detention centre that accommodates migrants and asylum seekers (around 65 persons as of early July) in Ukraine. The majority of the people have been detained between two-three weeks up to eight-nine months. We have visited the facility three times and provided aqua tabs, medicine and non-food items (mainly hygiene kits and cleaning materials). Doctors Without Borders did not observe significant needs that would justify a continuous presence in the detention centre. However, the team did witness signs of increased mental health distress, related to previous traumatic events, lack of freedom of movement during ongoing conflict and limited access to translators. Therefore, the team will strengthen efforts to build advocacy towards Ukrainian Government, IOM/UNHCR and the European Union to explore alternative solutions, including the release of the people and relocation to a safe country.
- SOUTHERN UKRAINE
In the broader Kryvyi Rih area, Doctors Without Borders has started running mobile clinics providing basic healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health. In Apostolove, an Doctors Without Borders team has been working with the hospital to develop their emergency room and mass casualty response capacity.
MYKOLAIV AND ODESA
Bashtanka (just north of Mykolaiv): we started offering training on mental health, including self-care for mental health professionals.
- EASTERN UKRAINE
In and around Dnipro, we are supporting vulnerable people who have fled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts where the conflict is particularly intense, and who are now staying temporarily or longer-term in more than 40 shelters.
Many of the people living in the shelters are highly vulnerable, including the elderly, people with disabilities, unaccompanied children and people who cannot afford to make the journey further west in Ukraine or abroad.
In the shelters our teams run mobile clinics, providing medical consultations; continuation of care and medications for people with chronic illnesses such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy; referrals to hospital for severely unwell patients; psychological first aid and mental health consultations; and basic relief items. Doctors Without Borders also provides consultations and referrals for people who have experienced sexual violence.
In Zaporizhzhia, we are providing support to displaced people thousands of whom were displaced from Mariupol, and other areas where fighting is intense.
Our teams run mobile clinics in the main reception centre and support more than 30 shelters throughout Zaporizhzhia, providing medical consultations; medicines for people with chronic illnesses such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy; and referrals to hospital for severely unwell patients; psychological first aid and mental health consultations; and basic relief items.
We are also donating medical supplies and carrying out mass casualty training for staff in hospitals, including the main referral hospital in Zaporizhzhia.
We are working with hospitals and primary health centres close to the frontline in Donetsk oblast to make sure they have enough of the right supplies and training to be able to keep treating patients even if they get cut off from supply lines by intense fighting. This includes support to primary healthcare, treatment for chronic diseases, maternal healthcare and trauma.
We are also equipping some hospitals with ‘autonomy kits’ infrastructural support, such as solar panels, generators, and water reserves to allow them to continue to operate if their power or water is disrupted, with infrastructure that can allow them to keep working for up to a week.
Doctors Without Borders teams are supporting specific hospitals to reorganise and reinforce their emergency room capacity and to prepare for a possible mass influx of wounded patients as well as donating specific medicines and supplies in response to requests from facilities and medical staff.
Doctors Without Borders also runs an ambulance referral service. Run out of Dnipro and Pokrovsk towns, this hospital-to-hospital referral service has seen been very active as fighting in the region has intensified in the last few weeks and continues to transfer patients from hospitals near the frontlines to health facilities further away in places like Dnipro. Since it started, this referral service has transported 307 patients in Doctors Without Borders ambulances. Ambulances also bring patients from hospitals to Doctors Without Borders' medical referral train.
Working through a network of passionate volunteers we are supporting groups of vulnerable people who have stayed, or been left, behind – the majority are elderly. People who remain in their homes or in local community spaces are living underground in often dire conditions – in many cases they have no light, fresh water, food or toilets or healthcare.
We are focused on helping to fill the gaps in what people need, providing treatments for chronic diseases, donating essential items such as water as well as power banks to charge phones and lights.
As frontlines get closer, and insecurity increases, in addition to increasing needs in terms of basic health and communications needs, it also becomes harder for these groups to move to seek safety. We are supporting with the evacuation of vulnerable people, if it is what they want including ensuring access to medical evacuation to facilities.
Since the outbreak of fighting across the country, our teams have been working to mount a response to meet urgent needs. We currently work with approximately 133 international staff in Ukraine and employ around 570 Ukrainian staff. They work as medical staff (doctors, nurses); psychologists; logistics and administration; and management. We currently have teams based in Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Poltava, Pokrovsk, Kryvyi Rih, Uzhhorod, Kropyvnytskyi, Vinnytsia, Zaporizhzhia and Zhytomyr.
According to the Belarus State Border Committee, more than 32,000 Ukrainians have arrived since February 24, including some 16,000 via the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, 19,600 via Poland and some arrivals via Lithuania (3000) and Latvia (600). UNHCR has recorded more than 16,670 people crossing from Ukraine into Belarus as of 12 July (UNHCR).
In Belarus, an Doctors Without Borders assessment team has moved to areas of the Belarus-Ukraine border to assess potential medical and humanitarian needs. In Belarus, our team has seen an increasing number of people forcibly displaced from Ukraine in need of medical assistance and social support. We are responding to the needs of patients from Ukraine, as well as other countries of origin, in Minsk, Grodno, Brest, Gomel, Mogilev and Vitebsk regions. Among our patients, there are many children and people with non-communicable and chronic diseases including diabetes and hypertension. A majority of them is in need of urgent psychological support. In Belarus, Doctors Without Borders continues to run its regular programmes. We support the national tuberculosis (TB) programme in the civil sector and in prisons.
Since 2021, we have also been assisting people on the move stranded between Belarus and the EU countries.
More than 4.6 million people have crossed from Ukraine into Poland as of 18 July 2022 (UNHCR). More than 1.2 million people have registered for temporary protection.
Doctors Without Borders is actively working to support the Ministry of Health to provide treatment for patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis, including patients previously supported by Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine.
Over 1,625,000 people have crossed to Russia from Ukraine as of 12 July 2022 (UNHCR).
Doctors Without Borders has been present in Russia for 30 years. Currently, Doctors Without Borders' teams in Russia work with health authorities in Arkhangelsk and Vladimir regions to support crucial, life-saving treatment for patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis. In the last few months, Doctors Without Borders scaled up its assistance to partner organisations in St Petersburg and Moscow ensuring continuation of HIV treatment for people from Ukraine and other people in need. We have seen an increase in the number of people from Ukraine living with HIV and hepatitis C in need of refills for their antiretroviral medicines.
Alongside this, Doctors Without Borders has recently started to support people displaced to Rostov and Voronezh (since February 2022), in coordination with local authorities. In May 2022, a dedicated Doctors Without Borders hotline was launched with an aim to provide referral services to medico-social support to the refugees and displaced people from Ukraine. As of mid-July, Doctors Without Borders with the support of local specialists responded to the needs of more than 160 people. In collaboration with local NGOs, Doctors Without Borders delivered essential relief items including food, glucometers, and consumables to diabetic patients from Ukraine in Voronezh. We are continuing the support with food and hygiene items. Doctors Without Borders through local organisations, social workers and local health providers, aims to link populations in need to existing medical and humanitarian services and improve their ability to receive the needed medical and humanitarian support. As in any country, our work in Russia is focused on providing medical care where we can, based on medical needs alone.
More than 589,000 people have crossed to Slovakia from Ukraine, more than 320,000 have crossed from Slovakia into Ukraine, and 81,000 have registered for temporary protection in Slovakia, as of 12 July 2022 (UNHCR).
We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health to be able to import medical supplies and we have trained health staff on TB and MDR-TB, and SGBV.
For the moment, the critical humanitarian and medical needs are covered by the local authorities and civil society.
Our emergency response in neighbouring countries
Support our medical response
You can help our medical teams deliver emergency medical supplies and treatment to people in Ukraine by making a donation today.