Ukraine: Hospitals ‘desperate’ for medical supplies, doctors say

Hospitals across Ukraine are “desperate” for medical supplies, doctors have warned, as oxygen stores are hit and other vital health supplies run low amid bombardment from Russian forces.

UK-based Ukrainian doctors have issued an urgent appeal for donations of supplies as they travel to eastern Europe in response to reports of shortages of medical equipment and medicines.

The World Health Organisation warned on Sunday evening that oxygen supplies in Ukraine were “dangerously low” as trucks were unable to transport oxygen supplies from plants to hospitals across the country.

Dr Volodymyr Suskyi, an intensive care doctor at Feofaniya Clinical Hospital in Kyiv, told The Independent he had been forced to use an emergency back-up system to supply oxygen to a patient on life support after the area near plant which supplies his hospital was bombed.

He said medicines and other supplies such as bandages and gloves could run out within days.

Dr Suskyi said: “It’s hard times but we are working together to help people. We hear explosions every hour, I don’t know if its near our hospital, but we hear it and every time we hear an alarm, we take our patients to the bomb shelter and wait until the situation is back to normal. It is difficult to move the patients but what else can we do.

“The area near the oxygen plant was exploded, so the plant is not working, so we don’t have enough oxygen in our hospital right now. Our director is managing the situation and we have oxygen tomorrow but now our [life-support] patient has oxygen only with an oxygen concentrator, because there is not enough oxygen in our hospital right now.

Oxygen concentrators are a medical device which filters nitrogen out of the air and provides patients with higher amounts of oxygen and differ from oxygen cylinders which are typically used in hospitals. They are often used as a backup system if a hospital cannot obtain liquid oxygen.

Dr Dennis Olugun, a UK-based doctor who is leading the group of medics from the Ukrainian Medical Association of the United Kingdom (UMAUK) to deliver medical supplies, said the situation was “desperate” in some areas. He said some hospitals did not have basic necessities such as rubber gloves.

He told The Independent: “What they need in the hospitals is portable ultrasound machines, portable x-ray machines because they have so many patients they much rather walk around the wards and do whatever diagnostic work rather than transporting patients.

“lviv is relatively well supplied because there are no Russians yet but the further east you go the more desperate the need are and some of them, such as hospitals in Kyiv, don’t have of all of the necessities rubber gloves bandages ect. The supply chains don’t work. The trouble is the aid isn’t getting through to places such as Kyiv.”

Dr Volodymyr Suskyi said: “We have volunteers in our country who are trying to get us supplies and are trying to connect to other countries to ask for help. It would be great if the UK can help.”

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations have called for medicines, pharmaceutical ingredients and raw materials to be excluded from the scope of sanctions being levied against Russian trade.

The UMAUK has published a list of “urgent” medical aid required in Ukraine which the organisation can ship.

It includes military-grade protective helmets for medics, gauze, bandages, haemostatic sponges, tourniquets, gloves and medicines.

In a post on Sunday, a representative for UMAUK said: “After the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, there is a massive need for direct access to various medications/instruments.

“We are trying to facilitate expedited aid to hospitals, cities and the front-line soldiers through our channels. Shipments from our London hub to Ukraine are already occurring multiple times a day.

“Recently we have approached various pharmacies who always have a stock of “out-of-date” items or “unused” materials which they have donated as oppose to binning these items and having them collected for incineration by contractors. They have already donated lots but we need much more.”

The UK government said on Sunday it would offer £40m in humanitarian aid to help agencies responding on the ground with medicine supplies, syringes, dressings and wound care packs.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign Office said it is unable to provide further details on the medical supply aid being offered at this stage.

A spokesperson for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said: “As the armed conflict in Ukraine intensifies, the European Pharmaceutical Industry’s priority will be to ensure that patients in Ukraine and Russia continue to get access to the medicines they need.

“To support that aim, we would like to call on all parties to exclude medicines, active pharmaceutical ingredients and any other raw materials required to manufacture diagnostics, treatments and vaccines from the scope of sanctions.”

Dr Suskyi has shared contact details for himself and Dr Andrii Strokan, deputy chief physician of the Feofania Clinical Hospital for anyone who would like to get in contact to assist the hospital with supplies. Please email [email protected]