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The Issue of Medical Care in Ukraine

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What are human rights? Well, they are rights that are essential to all human beings, no matter your sex, race, or any other status. Everyone is entitled to these rights without discrimination. But, do you feel that you are given all your rights? Unfortunately, not all people are receiving them in places like Ukraine. One example of a human right being torn from Ukrainian citizens, is the right to medical care. Everyone is able to acquire the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. We all have access to medical services, sanitation, adequate food, a clean environment, etc. Overall, every human is able to obtain medical services when needed, even in Ukraine; which is sadly a currently war-torn country. Our rights are indivisible and can’t be taken away from us.

How is medical care being ripped from Ukrainian citizens? Actually, Russia is currently attempting to invade Ukraine. Ukraine seemed the easiest to invade in Russia’s eyes because they are neighbors; Ukraine borders Russia to the east and northeast. With troops being sent into Ukraine from Russia, they are hurting innocent citizens causing them to need medical care, and fast. Many buildings are crumpling from the war, including the hospitals, so that is another factor of the limited health care. But, there are still many hospitals, but they are beginning to decline some patients because they aren’t hurt severely enough. According to MSF, an international medical humanitarian organization, “People are being deprived of care just when needed most, and this is simply unacceptable” (MSF). Multiple people agree with this statement, which is, that this needs to stop.

Something needs to happen soon, people are dying. Numerous amounts of people are going into the hospital and looking for help, but they are being told that they are not injured enough for them to treat. They have other patients to treat who are more brutally injured. It is being said that “East Ukraine is on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe as its health care collapses” (Stracansky). The sad part, is that this is true. People are slowly dying or fleeing the country because of what is currently happening. People can’t even feel comfortable in their own country. Imagine living happily with your family one day and having another country invading your hometown the next day. Unsettling right? All the Ukrainian citizens want, is a safe place to live where they can visit the doctors whenever they would like, if only there were enough hospitals intact. Families are being torn apart; this is simply devastating. Medical care in Ukraine is slowly becoming extinct.

Ukraine has had a bad reputation with medical care from the start. They were never known as a country with easy access to health care. Actually, they have “one of the worst HIV and AIDS epidemics in the world” (Stracansky). Meanwhile, as people with sicknesses like these can’t be treated, it is being spread around the country. They are making it harder on themselves. Since the hospitals can’t even treat the diseases that are spreading, people are dying fast. It seems to be that people with diseases like HIV are going to the hospital to be treating, but they never are. They walk into the hospital lobby and walk out just the same, with no difference in their health.

The cut-off of funds from the government put hospitals in a bad place. They know can’t buy enough supplies to go around since they can no longer afford it. The Ukrainian government stopped funding to any budgets for hospitals which led to death of many people. It is disturbing that people don’t realize what they are doing when they do it. “The humanitarian health crisis in Ukraine is severe. Insecurity, displacement, cold weather, combined with the poor state of the countries health system, means that basic heath care is out of reach” (Sarchet). With the conditions of living in Ukraine, it is making the spread of illness even worse. No one can really do much about the weather, but there are other possibilities to make up for the awful things going on. Speaking of living conditions, “Water and power supplies have broken down in Donetsk and Lugansk, and 50 of the countries healthcare facilities have been at least partially destroyed by fighting or looting” (Sarchet). The shows how awful the living conditions in certain cities are currently. People are living without running water, it is almost as if they are on a survivor show. They have to search for some water to keep them hydrated. This should not be a comparison to everyday living situations. Hopefully, this will all come to an end.

Hospitals being ruined isn’t the only cause to the lack of medical care. Some of the employees at hospitals are fleeing or dying. “Many of Ukraine’s healthcare workers have died or fled, leaving the country struggling with TB and at risk of polio and measles infections” (Sarchet). With fewer workers, there aren’t enough people to treat the citizens with major health problems, like TB, which could endanger so many other people. Also, the people working in the hospital are becoming ill since they are not as sanitary as they should be. The hospitals are moving slower and fewer and fewer patients are being treated every day. Very few people are being treated, and those are only the people who are nearly dead. Without the funds, there is a lack of medical supplies. “Vaccination coverage is well below 50 percent, placing the population at risk of preventable infectious diseases like polio and measles” (Sarchet). With a shortage of medical supplies, the hospital can’t even treat major diseases. People aren’t being treated for things like polio and measles. In some places in Ukraine, diseases like these are spreading like wildfire and killing more people. This is enormously aggravating, when is this going to end?

What do the citizens of Ukraine have to say about this tragedy? They are fuming from this lack of rights. Not many people are sharing their opinion, maybe because they are scared of what might happen if they do. But one brave soul named Andriy Klinemko stepped up to the plate. “OST patient Andriy Klinemko who was forced to flee Donetsk with his wife when their house was destroyed in bombing” (Stracansky). He has a certain medical need that requires care. He needs Opioids Substitution Therapy (OST) to treat his need. It is a drug taken under medical supervision. He was forced to leave his home and bring his wife with him to find a hospital who could help him. He moved along with many other OST patients, to central Ukraine. If he didn’t move, he could have died.

Survival means moving for some citizens, they need care so bad that they will do anything. There are also people who have mental issues who need help, but they aren’t being treated either. “The emotional consequences of the heavy fighting continue to mount. People in eastern Ukraine have been exposed to traumatic events, such as bombings, shootings and fleeing their homes” (MSF). Some of the emotional problems may have been from years ago, while others could be from the war happening around them. While being exposed to very violent weapons and lack of sanitation, “People are arriving [in the hospitals] with wounds suffering from diseases caused by the lack of sanitation in the basements and bomb shelters where they had to hide from the continuous shelling” (UNICEF). This proved how sporadic the safety is in Ukraine. People are needing serious help, physically and mentally. What has Ukraine become?

To add, how exactly are the citizens being injured? People are walking into the hospitals with both physical and mental issues. They can either have bullet wounds, or anxiety from watching others get injured severely. “Hospitals have been shelled, tens of thousands of people are displaced from their homes, and thousands of casualties have been reported” (MSF). People lives will change forever after being injured. They may ask why Russia is doing this to them. But, no one knows exactly. No one wants to call it an invasion because they don’t want Russia getting that picture into their heads and actually full-on invading. Many of the citizens believe it is, but no one will know until this is done and over with. That better be extremely soon.

What is being done about this disastrous event occurring in Ukraine? Many people from other countries, such as the United States, are beginning to help. There are major organizations like UNICEF who are coming to the rescue. “Kits were distributed to the medical institutions, hospitals and polyclinics that mostly deal the displaced people including children” (UNICEF). This was a huge help from the people who are willing to support the Ukrainian citizens.

The government has barely done anything to stop the population from dropping. And yet, they began to impose travel restrictions on certain areas in Ukraine. ”Travel restrictions imposed by the government of Ukraine have contributed to serious delays in the delivery of humanitarian aid, particularly medicines and medical equipment, to civilians in rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine” (Belyakov). Since so many people are fleeing to find help, they are starting to realize that and imposing travel restrictions. Certain places are becoming over-populated and it puts more stress on the hospitals because they have more patients coming in for assistance. This does not help anyone, it is just causing more deaths. Do they think that people want to leave their homes? No! They are only doing it because they have to, in order to survive. Though, the government has helped in some way. They have begun to improve their military. They started to build up along the Ukrainian-Russian border to defend themselves against the Russians. Also, other countries are working on pushing the president and his soldiers out of Ukraine why punishing him. They are imposing several rounds of very tough economic sanctions. Different countries seem to have a non-official alliance coming into place. Will there plan work? Let’s hope so.

Citizens are starting to have to rely on humanitarian groups, like UNICEF, to donate any medical services. If no one helps, a whole city could just drop dead. If one person has a disease and can’t get it treated, then people can’t leave to avoid it. It will move around the citizens until they are all ill. To shed some light on the fact, there are other organizations beginning to help. Administrations like MSF who, “have responded to these supply shortages by providing medical materials for treating more than 6,300 war-wounded hospitals” (MSF). Their donated supplies includes hygiene kits, which hold materials like soap to clean and make sure no one gets sick, or dental supplies to prevent any gum diseases or rotting teeth. It is amazing that people are working together to help others.

People who are not living in the places where they have travel restrictions, are being forced to leave their homes. “As a result of ongoing conflict . . . a growing number of civilians have been forced to leave their homes in search for safety and protection” (UNICEF). Not in just normal family homes, but in orphanages. They call it displacement, where they warn people to pack their things and move on out of their city. “As of February, more than 100,000 people and 70,000 children were displaced and sought medical assistance in various healthcare institutions located in the areas of their displacement” (UNICEF).

Places such as orphanages have to gather all the children and move them somewhere else where they can all fit. This is extremely difficult and may not be possible for all orphanages. But, in regular family homes, they may be able to move into family friend or relatives households. The real question is, how long can they do this for? Also, schools are being blown to bits and kids are ripped from their opportunities to learn. People are going through a life-changing experience, not in a positive way, if they can even live through it.

To end, it seems almost as if every citizens is needing medical care in Ukraine. Thankfully, that is not the case. But, who knows? Maybe in three months from now it will be. If that did happen, Ukraine would collapse almost immediately. To recap, some people need help because they have a disease like AIDS that need treatment, or maybe someone’s city was bombed and they were hurt. Or possibly, they are needing extreme mental care. So many people need help, and they are having it taken away from them. Something needs to be done about this. Again, every human has access to all medical services, hygiene, adequate food, a clean environment, and other necessities. In conclusion, Ukraine is a disaster waiting to happen. If their government doesn’t do something fast, Ukraine may not be a country on our map anymore.

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