May 10, 2022 - World

WHO: At least 3,000 Ukrainians have died from lack of chronic health treatments

A Ukrainian military medic cleans the floor of the small operating room
A Ukrainian military medic cleans the floor of the small operating room at a frontline field hospital on May 9 near Popasna, Ukraine. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

At least 3,000 Ukrainians have died due to lack of access to health treatments for chronic ailments such as cancer and diabetes, World Health Organization Europe regional director Hans Kluge said at a regional committee meeting Tuesday.

Driving the news: The war has battered Ukraine's health care system, with Russian forces deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure such as hospitals.

  • The WHO has verified more than 200 attacks on Ukrainian health care facilities since the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

What they're saying: "As we speak, the few hospitals still functioning, are attending life-threatening burn, bullet and shrapnel injuries, while many other people are unattended at home or in the streets with these injuries, or with tuberculosis, depression and psychiatric disorders, diabetes, HIV, COVID, and cancer," Kluge said.

  • "40% of households have at least one member in need of chronic treatment that they can no longer find, resulting in estimates of at least 3,000 premature, avoidable deaths," he added.
  • Kluge called the assault on Ukraine's health care system a breach of international humanitarian law.

The bottom line: "We will also see the long-term health impacts of the war unfold. Missed vaccinations for children, treatment gaps for cancer and chronic conditions, shortages of essential medicines, food insecurity, economic uncertainty, psychological trauma, increased sexual and gender-based violence, health workforce burnout — the effects of this conflict will cascade down through generations to come."

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