Ukraine health facilities stretch to breaking point – WHO warns

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is working “day and night” to keep medical supply chains open and preserve the health system in Ukraine, where, it says, medical facilities are stretched to breaking point, amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

The UN agency’s relief effort continues, despite missile attacks on healthcare facilities, workers, and patients in Ukrainian cities, which have killed 12 people and injured 34.

Nurses have had to ventilate patients manually in hospital basements, away from Russian shelling.

Among the most-needed lifesaving supplies, the UN health agency has sourced oxygen and insulin, surgical supplies, anesthetic, and transfusion kits to collect, test and safely transfuse blood.

“Supply chains have been severely disrupted,’’ WHO said in a statement on Monday.

Many distributors are not operational, some stockpiles are inaccessible due to military operations, medicine supplies are running low, and hospitals are struggling to provide care to the sick and wounded.”

Some 18 million people in Ukraine are believed to have been affected by the war, including 6.7 million internally displaced.

A key priority of the WHO relief effort is to provide support to the healthcare systems of neighbouring countries, which have taken in some 2.8 million people in the last two weeks.

One of those countries is Moldova, which has seen over 310,000 people enter its territory since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, however, called for international humanitarian law to be respected in Ukraine, amid reports that a convoy of some 160 civilian cars has managed to leave the city of Mariupol, which has been surrounded by Russian forces for over two weeks.

According to local officials, the convoy was evacuated under cover of a “humanitarian corridor”, which would make it the first such ceasefire to be successfully organized between the warring parties.

Conditions in Mariupol have severely deteriorated since the siege began.

Guterres said that the UN and humanitarian partners are working to ensure passage from besieged areas and provide aid where security permits.

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