The World Health Organisation (WHO), is ‘deeply worried’ about the fate of civilians in Ukraine following the invasion by Russian troops, the UN agency’s European head said on Friday.
“I am deeply worried about the safety, health, and well-being of civilians in Ukraine.
I am also concerned that the significant progress made in strengthening the health system in Ukraine in recent years could be derailed,” said Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe director.
“The immediate health risks relate to casualties, as we receive reports of fighting and shelling from across the country.
Hospitals will urgently need emergency supplies, including medicines, along with trauma and surgery kits,” Kluge added.
At present, the WHO is packing life-saving surgical kits in Dubai for transport into Ukraine, potentially through Poland.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered his troops to invade Ukraine.
The invasion has already claimed dozens of lives and displaced at least 100,000 people.
On Friday, Ukrainian troops were battling Russian soldiers in the capital Kyiv.
The WHO “has mobilised all three levels of the organisation in support of this rapidly unfolding humanitarian crisis,” said Kluge.
“Global, regional and country teams are closely coordinated to deliver health support to Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
He added that the WHO’s priorities in Ukraine have shifted “to providing emergency services, trauma care, ensuring continuity of health services, mental health provision and psycho-social support”.
However, medicines and vaccines are still needed and the WHO is working closely with the UN and other partners “to ensure humanitarian corridors can be set up to allow the steady flow of life-saving provisions,” he said.
The UN health agency has more than 100 staff across the country, although some have had to seek shelter underground.
WHO ‘deeply worried’ about safety, health of civilians in Ukraine