Citing unparalleled attacks on health care facilities, the World Health Organization said this week it is working to reconstruct Ukraine’s health system. The system has suffered extensive damage since Russia invaded the country six months ago.
Over the past six months, the U.N. health agency says it has verified 173 attacks on medical facilities, which have resulted in nearly 100 deaths and 134 injuries.
WHO Ukraine representative Jarno Habicht told reporters this week that deaths and injuries continue to rise and will continue to do so until Russia ends the war.
“While these attacks are not only the violation of international law, they also are a barrier for many who need care as we are going through the war,” he said. “So, it is not only the supplies and others that we need to support, we need to ensure also that the services are available. But also, the health care workers are under immediate risk as we go through these times.”
The United Nations says the war has killed more than 5,500 civilians and injured nearly 8,000, including almost 1,000 children. UNICEF says about five children on average are killed or injured every day. The children’s agency says this is due to the indiscriminate use of weapons, often in heavily populated areas.
Speaking via videolink from an air raid shelter in Dnipro, in central Ukraine, Habicht said many people are on the move and many are suffering and need care.
He said the WHO is accelerating efforts to reach out and provide humanitarian assistance to millions of people across the country. At the same time, he said the WHO is working on rebuilding Ukraine’s shattered health system in coordination with national and local authorities.
“Reconstruction of the health system has to be part of the recovery of the whole country across all the sectors,” he said. “And that is why we are currently concentrating both on the humanitarian response, as well looking to the recovery as we have seen in the health sector and other sectors.”
To date, the WHO has delivered more than 1,300 metric tons of medical supplies in Ukraine, including medicines for diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and other noncommunicable diseases.
Habicht said support also is being provided for mental health, trauma, and emergencies. He also said COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to Ukraine in recent weeks in light of the increasing mortality rate from the virus across the country.