(UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. health chief decried the devastating consequences of war on the Ukrainian people who are facing severe disruption to services and medication and stressed that “the life-saving medicine we need right now is peace.”
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the U.N. Security Council Thursday that WHO has verified 43 attacks on hospitals and health facilities with 12 people killed and 34 injured.
In a virtual briefing, Tedros said “the disruption to services and supplies is posing an extreme risk to people with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV and TB, which are among the leading causes of mortality in Ukraine.”
The WHO chief said displacement and overcrowding caused by people fleeing the fighting are likely to increase the risks of diseases such as COVID-19, measles, pneumonia and polio.
In addition, more than 35,000 mental health patients in Ukrainian psychiatric hospitals and long-term care facilities face severe shortages of medicine, food, health and blankets, he said.
So far, WHO has sent about 100 metric tonnes (110 tons) of medical supplies, enough for 4,500 trauma patients and 450,000 primary health care patients for a month, to Ukraine along with other equipment. Tedros said the agency is preparing a further 108 metric tonnes (119 tons) for delivery.
Tedros urged donors to support the immense and escalating humanitarian needs in Ukraine and fully fund the U.N.’s $1.1 billion humanitarian appeal.