Edited story: Ukraine Healthcare - WHO
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Edited News , Press Conferences | WHO

Ukraine: 2nd full winter under war and healthcare - WHO

Even if the war ended now, health needs of millions of Ukrainians would be high and increasing: WHO

 

As the war in Ukraine enters its second full winter, the UN health agency warned that the coming months risked being brutally cold and long for vulnerable Ukrainians.

“We see the increasing disease burden, so even if the war was to end today, the health needs of millions of people across the country would be high and increasing,” Dr Jarno Habicht from the World Health Organization (WHO) told reporters in Geneva.

 

Amid the ongoing Ukraine counter-offensive in response to the full-scale Russian invasion on 24 February 2022, the campaign has reportedly become one of only incremental gains.

Speaking from Odessa, the WHO Representative in Ukraine highlighted the high level of disruption to the health system.

More than 2,400 verified attacks have been carried out against health facilities since Russia’s so-called special military operation, resulting in many civilian casualties, according to WHO.

This has left many health facilities only partly functional in the east and south of the country where needs are highest.

Among them, mental health illness affects more than 10 million people. “It can vary from simple stress, anxiety to the other high-level needs for which it is necessary to turn to primary care and hospitals,” Dr. Habicht said. “What we have been doing is to ensure that the training materials are available for people, like the (online) self-help plus tools,” the WHO official explained.

More than 55,000 primary health care workers are trained to deal with mental health issues but the needs will be long-lasting for many generations, he said.

Children and the elderly are suffering particularly and struggling as winter arrives and amid ongoing fighting. Since 24 February 2022, WHO has delivered more than 4,000 metric tons of life-saving medical supplies to Ukraine, including power generators, ambulances, oxygen and medicines.

It is envisaged that the long list of requirements will be sustained next year at the same level.

The UN health agency and partners evaluate that 7.8 million people will need humanitarian support in 2024. Of this number, the humanitarian community aims to target 3.8 million of the most vulnerable. “This is something where we need to put all our efforts to reach to all those civilians,” stressed Dr. Jarno Habicht.

On a more positive note, the WHO official highlighted that Ukraine’s public health system continues to  function, notably in battling the polio outbreak successfully in 2023.

Ukraine has also adopted a new public health law to improve resilience, along with boosted community surveillance for infections, ensuring that healthcare specialists address all risk factors including non-communicable diseases.

The public health community also sees the European Union accession process as an opportunity to transform Ukraine’s care infrastructure further, Dr. Habicht insisted. “We have more harmonized disease surveillance together within EU Member States, and that's very important for public health and also information exchange.”

Accession to the EU would also harmonize medical education for nurses and doctors, as well as standards for water sanitation, the WHO official continued. Nevertheless, these changes will take time as the EU only agreed on 14 December to move forward with membership talks.

Ends

Speaker: Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine, speaking from Odessa, Ukraine.

 

TRT: 01’49”
SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 19 Dec. 2023 - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
Geneva WHO Press Conference at UNOG



SHOTLIST

 

  1. Wide shot: UN flag alley UN Geneva.
  2. Cutaway: wide shot, press room, UN Geneva.
  3. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine: “We see the increasing disease burden. So, even if the war would end today, the health needs of people, millions of people across the whole Ukraine, will be high and increasing.”
  4. Cutaway: wide shot, press room, UN Geneva.
  5. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine: “We have more than 10 million people with mental health needs. It can vary from simple stress, anxiety to the other high-level needs that you need to turn to the primary care and hospitals. What we have been doing is to ensure that the training materials are available for people like the self-help plus tools.”
  6. Cutaway: close-up shot of journalist, UN Geneva.
  7. SOUNDBTE (ENGLISH) Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine: “We have evaluated that people needs next year, in 2024, account for 7.8 million people. And we, as a humanitarian community working in health and with WHO coordination, are targeting 3.8 million people. And 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.”
  8. Cutaway: wide shot, press room with journalists, UN Geneva.
  9. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Dr Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine: “We have more harmonized disease surveillance together within EU member states, and that's very important for public health and also information exchange.”
  10. Various shots of press conference room, UN Geneva.


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