Ukraine war and refugee crisis - Hospitals are facing dramatic shortages of medical supplies

Report from Christopher Stokes MSF emergency coordinator in Lviv for Medicins Sans Frontières.


The war in Ukraine has killed or injured thousands of people, while millions more have fled into neighbouring countries, becoming refugees.


As the brutal impact of the war escalates, our specialist teams are working across the region to deliver life-saving medical aid where it's needed most.


We are reaching medical teams with emergency shipments of medicines and supplies. We're training doctors and nurses in 'mass casualty' triage and surgery for complex war wounds. And we're preparing healthcare systems in under-threat cities to be ready for future attacks.


Fighting in Ukraine has killed or injured thousands of people, while more than 2.9 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.


Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams are working to deliver emergency medical aid to people still in Ukraine, as well as those now seeking safety in neighbouring countries.


The situation is extremely fast-moving and we are now witnessing a sharp escalation in the impact of the conflict on civilians – some cities are surrounded by military forces, under heavy bombardment and running out of food and water, while hospitals across the country are facing dramatic shortages of medical supplies.


The information about our response, below, is correct as of 16 March 2022 and is likely to change.


Our emergency response in Ukraine

MSF medical teams are experts at working in conflict zones and complex humanitarian crises, while our experienced logistics staff and robust supply chains ensure that critical supplies reach where they are needed.

  • Specialist medical teams are now in Ukraine

  • Emergency supplies have arrived and will continue to arrive in the coming days and weeks

  • MSF staff and supplies that were already in Ukraine have been diverted to support hospitals treating war-wounded people

  • Our teams are preparing for a range of scenarios, including providing surgical care, emergency medicine and mental health support

We are working to rapidly scale up our medical and humanitarian response where the needs are greatest and where we can have a life-saving impact.


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Our response in Ukraine: In-depth

Our first priority in Ukraine is resupplying hospitals that are in desperate need of medicines and equipment.


We have donated existing supplies and are rushing cargo shipments of emergency kits to those located in areas of heavy fighting.


On Saturday 5 March, additional supplies began arriving in Ukraine, and more shipments will continue to arrive in the coming weeks and beyond.


However, with full-scale warfare in many areas, movements are difficult, dangerous or simply impossible. Communication networks are not always available and there is a significant amount of misinformation.


Kyiv

Since the conflict began on 24 February, MSF has transported medical supplies to treat war-wounded people arriving at hospitals in Kyiv, as well as specialised ‘mass casualty’ kits for dealing with incidents where large numbers of injured patients arrive at the same time.


Western Ukraine

MSF is assessing the medical needs in towns and cities across western Ukraine. In the city of Lviv, expert teams have begun training hospital staff to deal with mass casualty events, and to treat war wounds.


Southern Ukraine

In southern Ukraine, the healthcare system has already been disrupted and hospitals are facing supply challenges, affecting their ability to treat the consequences of the conflict and patients with chronic diseases.


The city of Odessa is now making large-scale preparations for a future attack.


Our teams here are helping prepare hospital staff to take care of war-wounded people – including training in triage and patient stabilisation – and we are continuing to bring in medical supplies. We are also preparing to set up ‘advanced medical posts’ – small emergency rooms capable of providing first aid to the injured, before transporting them on to hospitals.


Eastern Ukraine

We have maintained contact with healthcare facilities in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where we ran medical projects before the recent escalation in fighting.


Some hospitals report treating dozens of war-wounded people at a time, with shortages of medication such as insulin for people with diabetes. We have donated supplies and will continue to provide support.


In Dnipro, teams have donated medical material to local health facilities and are assessing the needs in the area.


Mariupol

The port city of Mariupol is currently surrounded by military forces and subject to heavy shelling. The situation is growing desperate.


Our staff inside the city report that people are running out of food and medicines, with shops cleaned out and pharmacies empty. There is no heating or electricity, and most worryingly there is no access to clean water. People are melting snow, collecting rainwater or breaking open heating systems to meet basic needs.


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