Impact on the health system
Our media monitoring has shown that a number of hospitals have been damaged. As there is a high risk of any hospital being hit by explosive weapons causing indiscriminate destruction, many hospitals have moved patients into their basements. Most of these cellars were never built to accommodate patients. The sick, wounded, and young mothers rest on blankets and mattresses on the floor without proper hospital beds.
Curfews and roadblocks also make it very dangerous – if not impossible – for patients to reach hospitals. Ambulances have been shot at.
There are now shortages of key drugs and other lifesaving necessities because the supply chains to hospitals and pharmacies have been interrupted. In particular, there is a shortage of supplies that are needed more now than in normal circumstances. For example, the anxiety of the war means that many young mothers have difficulties lactating. As a consequence, a much higher than normal proportion of newborns need help to survive but stocks of baby formula are running low.
In several places crucial infrastructure such as water and electricity has been interrupted. Hospitals cannot function and patients are at great risk at dying from totally avoidable complications.
This has put patients with long-term health needs, such as children with cancer or patients needing regular dialysis, in life-threatening positions. Expecting and young mothers and their babies are also very vulnerable.
Impact on Health workers
Health workers are at risk of being injured and killed when hospitals are attacked.
Health professionals are under enormous pressure. Because of the fighting outside, they can no longer move between home and work. Health workers therefore have to choose between staying either with their own children and elderly parents or their patients. Those health workers who stay day and night with their patients in the basements provide incredible care.
But there is a limit to what even the most amazing people can deliver when working in a much reduced team in the very difficult circumstances. The physical and mental effort required of those who remain and work 24/7 under very challenging conditions is tremendous. Health workers are no longer able to follow the well-established protocols. Instead, they constantly have to improvise as best as they can. There are few breaks from work. Health professionals’ stoicism is tested to the limits when they have to watch a child die, they know they could have saved if only they had the equipment and the drugs they needed.