Statement on the War in Ukraine
Though the healthcare situation in Ukraine seems grim, there is help on the way.
The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) joins the American Nurses Association (ANA), International Council of Nurses (ICN), as well as NATO, the UN, and the EU in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On February 24th, Russian forces massing on the Ukrainian border advanced into the country. Russian forces, upon entering range of the cities of Kiev and Kharkiv, commenced an artillery bombardment of both cities. Artillery shelling is confirmed in civilian centers of Kiev and Kharkiv, including Kharkiv’s Central Square.
Russian forces have targeted hospitals with artillery bombardment in Kiev, Kharkiv, and Mariupol, forcing evacuations.
The city of Mariupol has been entirely encircled, and contact has been lost with the staff and occupants of the hospital, with no way to get them supplies. Pavlusenko Hospital in Kiev narrowly avoided a cruise missile strike which instead struck an adjacent apartment building.
These dangers are unthinkable in a country at peace, but are now a daily threat for patients, nurses, doctors, and hospital staff in Ukraine.
These dangers are unthinkable in a country at peace, but are now a daily threat for patients, nurses, doctors, and hospital staff in Ukraine. A variety of new problems have arisen during the conflict, such as shortages of important supplies.
- Increasingly, hospitals in contested areas must use generators more and more as shelling interferes with power and power substations, shortening fuel reserves.
- Electricity fluctuations have stalled vaccine campaigns in certain areas, as outages impact viability of stored vaccines.
- Medical oxygen appears to be running low in the conflict, with very limited resupply.
- Insulin is in short supply and growing shorter, as supply routes in areas under active invasion are no longer a safe prospect.
- Less than a month of antiretroviral HIV medication remains in the country, presenting a grave threat to citizens in Ukraine with HIV.
Unconventional solutions are often required in extraordinary times, and medical staff in Ukraine have risen to the challenge.
Under the threat of hospitals being bombarded by artillery, organizers and caregivers have been evacuating the gravely ill; by March 5th, a few Polish trains were converted to jury-rigged medical wards to extract critically ill children from a Kiev hospital to Polish medical care.
Though the healthcare situation in Ukraine seems grim, there is help on the way. Medical organizations in the US and abroad are donating medical supplies. Johns Hopkins has donated 4+ million dollars’ worth of medical equipment through Project C.U.R.E., a nonprofit specializing in delivery and distribution of donated medical supplies. Other food and medical supplies have been provided by the World Health Organization.
The conflict in Ukraine is a humanitarian catastrophe, with millions of evacuees displaced from their homes. A swift international response has played a significant role in the opening days of this conflict, and this international response must continue and aid the displaced citizens of Ukraine, as the conditions imposed by wartime and rapid evacuation invite destitution and the spread of infectious disease.
AMSN condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unequivocally and calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities. The humanitarian cost of this conflict is massive and growing.
If you’re interested in donating to support relief efforts, AMSN recommends the Red Cross.