The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it had verified 64 instances of attacks on health care in Ukraine between Feb. 24 and March 21 resulting in 15 deaths and 37 injuries. Close to 7 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced in the one month of war, with one in three of them suffering from a chronic health condition, according to the global health agency.
Pressure has been mounting on medical professionals and volunteers from Ukraine and abroad to keep the country’s healthcare system going, since the start of the Russian invasion. The conflict, which began on Feb. 24, has caused more than 3.6 million refugees to flee Ukraine and already led to the unprecedented isolation of Russia’s economy due to sanctions.
Limited access to medicines, healthcare facilities and staff in Ukraine is further pressuring ongoing treatments of chronic conditions, the WHO said, adding that half of the country’s pharmacies were thought to be closed. The war has also impacted COVID-19 vaccinations and routine immunizations in Ukraine, the health agency said.
Between Feb. 24 and March 15 COVID-19 vaccines were administered to 175,000 people, compared with at least 50,000 vaccinations per day before the Russian invasion, according to the WHO. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control last week said refugees from Ukraine should be offered a full course of COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses, if they do not have proof of prior inoculation.
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