WHO says 64 hospitals attacked since Russian invasion of Ukraine | News

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has verified some 64 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine since Russia began its invasion a month ago.

They confirmed that the attacks took place between February 24 and March 21 at the rate of two to three per day, killing at least 15 people, the WHO said in a statement.

“Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law, but a common and worrying tactic of war – they destroy critical infrastructure, but worse, they dash hope,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, the representative WHO in Ukraine. “They deprive already vulnerable people of care that often makes the difference between life and death. Health care is not – and should never be – a target.

Ukraine has accused Russia of bombing hospitals and health facilities, including a children’s hospital and a maternity ward in the besieged city of Mariupol, which city officials called a “war crime without justification”.

Nearly four million people have been forced to flee the country, according to the UN, with Ukraine putting up fierce resistance to the Russian advance. Cities including Kharkiv, Kyiv and Mariupol have come under intense aerial bombardment with people forced into underground shelters for safety.

On Wednesday, the United States said it had determined that Russia had committed war crimes in Ukraine, citing the bombing of Mariupol and the attack on the maternity hospital, among others.

“Our assessment is based on careful consideration of available information from public and intelligence sources. As with any alleged crime, a court of competent jurisdiction is ultimately responsible for determining criminal culpability in specific cases,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Russia has denied deliberately targeting civilians.

The four-week war has also forced Ukraine to reassign hospitals to treat the wounded, disrupting the provision of basic medical services to the rest of the population.

Nearly 1,000 health facilities are near frontlines or in occupation zones, WHO noted.

“The consequence of this – limited or no access to drugs, facilities and medical professionals – means that treatments for chronic conditions have almost ceased,” the statement said.

The WHO says the need to care for war-wounded has diverted attention from other medical needs and disrupted routine treatment and vaccination programs [Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA]

About half of the country’s pharmacies are thought to be closed, with many healthcare workers displaced by the fighting or unable to work, he added.

Vaccination against COVID-19 and routine vaccination have also been halted.

Prior to the invasion, at least 50,000 people were vaccinated against COVID-19 every day. The WHO says that between February 24 and March 15, only 175,000 people were vaccinated against the virus.

The UN agency said it was working closely with Ukraine’s health ministry to address issues caused by the war and had sent more than 100 metric tons of medical equipment across the border to health facilities across the country.

Some 36 metric tons of supplies, including trauma kits, chronic disease medications and pediatric medicines, are currently on their way to the western city of Lviv, with another 108 metric tons waiting to be delivered. shipped.

“What we provide – and where – meets the very needs of people on the ground, where Ukrainian health workers are working around the clock in unimaginable circumstances. A team of trained medical professionals can, with a WHO trauma kit containing surgical equipment, consumables and antiseptics, save the lives of 150 injured people. In other words, delivering 10 of these kits means 1,500 lives saved,” said Dr Habicht.

The WHO said it also sent urgent medical supplies – enough to treat 150 trauma patients and provide health care for 15,000 patients for three months – as part of a United Nations convoy to Sumy in the north- eastern Ukraine earlier this month.

It has also deployed more than 20 emergency medical teams to Ukraine and assisted displaced people in Poland and the Republic of Moldova.

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