The horrific attacks on healthcare in Ukraine are killing and causing serious injuries to patients and health workers, destroying vital health infrastructure and forcing thousands to forgo accessing health services despite catastrophic needs.
To attack the most vulnerable – babies, children, pregnant women, and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives – is an act of unconscionable cruelty.
Since the start of the war, 31 attacks on health care have been documented via the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care. In 24 incidents health care facilities were damaged or destroyed, while in 5 cases ambulances were damaged or destroyed. These attacks have led to at least 12 deaths and 34 injuries, and affected access to and availability of essential health services.
The health system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening.
Humanitarian partners health workers must be able to safely maintain and strengthen essential health service delivery, incl. immunization against COVID-19 and polio, and the supply of life-saving medicines for civilians across Ukraine as well as to refugees.
It is critical that humanitarian actors have safe and unimpeded access to reach ALL civilians in need wherever they may be. UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO are working with partners to scale up life-saving services and support to meet urgent health needs.
Health care and services should be protected from all acts of violence and obstruction. For the sake of health workers, and for all people in Ukraine who need access to the lifesaving services they provide, attacks on all health care and other civilian infrastructure must stop.
Finally, we call for an immediate ceasefire, which includes unhindered access so that people in need can access humanitarian assistance. A peaceful resolution to end the war in Ukraine is possible.