As a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine is facing persistent and intensifying public health challenges. In November 2022, the Minister of Health of Ukraine reported that Russian shelling had damaged 956 medical facilities and destroyed 144 more. According to reports, 533 pharmacies and 90 ambulances have been damaged, and 241 ambulances have been seized by Russian forces. Thousands of Ukrainian citizens in occupied territories do not have access to vital medicines, medical care or clean drinking water.
Despite these challenges, Ukraine’s health system has adapted to wartime needs. Hospitals have reorganized staff and pivoted to trauma care, suspending routine surgeries. A nationwide COVID-19 hotline has been retooled as a general medical hotline. However, the disruption to health services has not been universal and some areas of the country have managed to sustain routine services.
To meet shifting demands, the healthcare system needs more supplies, namely, surgical supplies, anesthetics, transfusion kits, intensive care unit equipment, and essential medicines. These supplies are difficult to deliver to territories during heavy fighting. However, despite complicated logistics, Ukrainian civil society organizations are adapting quickly and effectively to meet the evolving needs amid volatile levels of access. Volunteers are coordinating the movement of medicine from distribution centers to healthcare providers near the frontlines.
Despite the complex situation on the ground, post-war planning is already underway. The Ukrainian economy is expected to contract at least 35 percent in 2022 and strong external support will be required to ensure that the health situation does not deteriorate further after the acute phase of the crisis has passed. The International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions have signaled their commitment to reconstruction and long-term recovery projects.