UN reacts to Mariupol hospital bombing: Health care should not “ever, ever be a target”

UN reacts to Mariupol hospital bombing: Health care should not “ever, ever be a target”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has verified 18 attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine so far, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. 

So far, WHO has verified 18 attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances, including ten deaths and 16 injuries,” Tedros said in a media briefing. 

“More than 2 million people have left Ukraine and WHO is supporting neighboring countries to provide health care for refugees, most of whom are women and children. Some of the main health challenges we see are hypothermia, and frostbite, respiratory diseases, lack of treatment for cardiovascular disease and cancer, and mental health issues. WHO personnel and have been deployed to neighboring countries to provide mental health and psychosocial support.”

Tedros said the organization has delivered 81 metric tons of supplies to the region and is working on establishing a pipeline to get supplies to health facilities. 

“Yesterday, we delivered 5 metric tons of medical supplies to Kyiv to support surgical care for 150 trauma patients and other supplies to manage a range of health conditions for 45,000 people for a month. More supplies will be distributed today,” he said. 

Dr. Adelheid Marschang, senior emergency officer, said “remarkably” Covid-19 surveillance in the country remains in place and cases appear to be decreasing. 

“We have to say remarkably, Ukraine has maintained its Covid-19 surveillance and response system. And we have noted in the last week 731 Covid-19 deaths, the numbers of cases seem to decrease,” she said, noting that the organization is also monitoring the risk of spread of measles and polio in the crisis. 

“The reality is that the conditions we see in Ukraine are the worst possible ingredients for the amplification and spread of infectious disease,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Covid, doesn’t matter if it’s polio, doesn’t matter if it’s measles, doesn’t matter if it’s cholera. You put that many people in desperation on the move, women and children packed together, people in basements. People stressed, people not eating, not sleeping. These are the conditions which immune systems are weak. People’s defenses are low, and infectious diseases can rip through populations like this,” Ryan said.

The only real solution to this situation is peace,” Tedros said.

“WHO continues to call on the Russian Federation to commit to a peaceful resolution to this crisis and to allow safe, unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance for those in need. A peaceful resolution is possible, and that’s true in every war and humanitarian crisis to which WHO is responding around the world,” the director general said.

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