Ukraine, head of MSF: “In Mariupol risk of Covid, cholera, measles and polio”

“The humanitarian situation in Mariupol remains extremely serious. The extreme shortage of basic services in the city is having a huge impact on people’s physical and mental health.” Médecins Sans Frontières emergency manager Kate White says this in an exclusive interview with Adnkronos.

“Many families – he denounces – do not have enough water, food and medicine. For young children this can be particularly dangerous. Unlike adults, their bodies cannot bear large imbalances in their food and water intake, and therefore they are high risk of dehydration. Contaminated water can also cause diarrhea, which in turn can set in motion a vicious cycle, with diarrhea leading to further dehydration. In extreme situations, this can even lead to death. “

“Poor water quality can also lead to a number of other diseases including skin infections and scabies. In addition, in Mariupol people have to live in crowded conditions as they shelter from shelling and explosions and are unable to follow basic sanitation measures. This could lead to respiratory tract infections and the spread of Covid-19. A poor water supply can also cause outbreaks of communicable diseases. We are particularly concerned about cholera. Mariupol experienced a cholera outbreak in 2011, so we know that the bacterium that causes cholera is present in the region. In addition, Ukraine has had low vaccination coverage, hence the risk of other vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles and the spread of polio. is high “.

“Mariupol is an urban city, but in a situation of lack of fuel, people have to use wood to cook in houses not built for it – he continues – Therefore, the likelihood of fires is high and people risk severe burns. and suffering from respiratory diseases. In a context where the health system has literally collapsed, this could be fatal “.

“With the ongoing war, people are unable to move freely, which severely limits their ability to seek health care. When people’s freedom, safety and their ability to seek prompt health care are compromised – accusation White – All this goes against the laws of war, which enshrine the right of civilians to seek safety and health care. “

The head of MSF also recalls that a high percentage of elderly people live in eastern Ukraine, a direct consequence of the eight years of conflict. “Many young people fled when the war broke out in 2014. The elderly are the least mobile, so they are more likely to stay. Many have underlying health conditions including hypertension and diabetes. The war has disrupted community structures, which are were essential to support the health needs of older people. We had created a network of health care volunteers who helped people get diagnosed and treated promptly, as well as help with medication intake. Due to the fighting, many community health workers have left the region or went into hiding. ”

White then talks about the effects on mental health: “We have known from decades of experience that war has a significant impact. For many, security and certainties have been stripped from them. Normal support mechanisms, including family and friends, have been disrupted. as many people have fled or are hiding. Their physical environment has been torn apart and people have to move from place to place in search of safety. Today in Mariupol there is hardly any safe place and the sound of gunfire , bombing and air strikes is ever-present. We will have to deal with the mental health impact of this full-scale war for years. “

“MSF has been working in the Donetsk region for over eight years. Immediately before the outbreak of the war at the end of February this year, MSF teams based in Mariupol worked with community volunteers to improve access to health care for isolated populations – he concludes – We have also supported new approaches to decentralize mental health care in eastern Ukraine. In the days following the war, MSF donated trauma kits to some hospitals in eastern Ukraine and is trying to guarantee the continuity of care for patients, especially the elderly, for whom treatment interruptions can be life-threatening “.

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About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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