Antonio Broto |
Geneva (EFE).- Some 10 million Ukrainians, or almost a third of the population that has remained in the country after the Russian invasion, suffer from mental problems, of which some 4 million present moderate to severe symptoms, warned the World Health Organization (WHO).
“In my meeting with the Ukrainian first lady, Olena Zelenska, she told me that everyone in society has become a bit of a psychologist,” said the European director of the WHO, Hans Kluge, in a virtual press conference from the city of Zhitomir to take stock of the health consequences of a year of war.
Kluge, who has completed his fifth visit to the country since the Russian invasion, stressed that mental and psychosocial care has become one of the WHO’s priorities, along with rehabilitation programs for wounded in war and armed attacks.
The WHO regional director stated that during the visit he once again saw with admiration that “despite the fatigue, stress and exhaustion of health workers, the health system is still standing, as a testimony to the commitment of these workers” .
Less access in liberated areas
The WHO representative in Ukraine, Jarno Habicht, added from Poltava that the health system works generally well, although with greater difficulties in areas retaken by Ukrainian forces after the Russian occupation, such as towns around Kiev or Kharkov. .
Those responsible for the WHO recalled that Russia has attacked almost 800 health facilities (actions that according to international law constitute war crimes), although Habicht pointed out that 20% of these infrastructures have been rebuilt: “The system heals itself” , he stressed.
The attacks on the electrical infrastructure since October have also sometimes made health care difficult, said the expert, who pointed out that on occasions such actions have interrupted the proper functioning of health networks in certain locations for several weeks.
Kluge stressed that now that the war is approaching its second year, another major concern is the problem of access to ordinary treatment for Ukrainian citizens due to economic and logistical difficulties.
“Our surveys indicate that one in 10 people have problems accessing medicines, due to a lack of supply or because the nearest pharmacies have been destroyed or damaged, while a third of those surveyed admit that they cannot pay for them,” he said.
Infectious outbreaks and vaccines
The European head of the WHO did not give data on how the war has affected the incidence of infectious diseases in Ukraine, although he recalled that “even before the war the levels of tuberculosis or HIV were worrying, and the conflict has certainly not done Let this get better.”
The WHO has helped establish centers for the control and prevention of these diseases at the regional level in order to track the incidence of these diseases, he said.
The war has also affected vaccination campaigns, and in this sense Kluge cited that since the Russian invasion only 11% of the anti-covid vaccine doses that have arrived in Ukraine (4 out of 35 million) have been able to be administered.
The WHO has requested for this year 240 million dollars in order to finance its humanitarian operations related to the war (160 million within Ukraine and 80 for the countries hosting Ukrainian refugees), with which it hopes to assist 13.8 million people, compared to the 8.5 million that aid reached in 2022.