A ‘brutal winter’ could worsen Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis, the W.H.O. warns | The New York Times

by UKCHP_Admin

With more than 800,000 homes in Ukraine destroyed since the start of the war and thousands of people lacking access to fuel or electricity, the World Health Organization warned on Friday that the coming “brutal winter” could magnify the humanitarian crisis in the country.

After a week in which Russia launched a barrage of missiles at civilian targets across Ukraine that killed more than three dozen people and injured dozens more, the W.H.O. said that the war had taken a heavy toll on the country’s health care infrastructure. The organization said it had confirmed attacks on 620 health care facilities since Russia invaded in February.

Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement that the advent of winter, a surge in Covid-19 cases, and the proliferation of attacks on civilian infrastructure all posed a challenge in the war-battered country.

“The destruction of houses and lack of access to fuel or electricity due to damaged infrastructure could become a matter of life or death if people are unable to heat their homes,” he said. He added that winter could prove particularly dangerous for vulnerable people — including the elderly and patients with chronic conditions.

“Too many people in Ukraine are living precariously, moving from location to location, living in substandard structures or without access to heating,” he said. “This can lead to frostbite, hypothermia, pneumonia, stroke and heart attack.”

At the same time, he said, health care services were being strained by the recent escalation in fighting and the internal displacement of millions of Ukrainians, as well as an exodus of refugees to neighboring countries.

Although Ukraine has recently reclaimed dozens of towns in northeastern Ukraine and beyond, the W.H.O. said that the recapturing of territory had also underscored the need to address the health needs of local residents suffering the physical and mental aftermath of Russian occupation.

The organization said that an estimated 10 million people in Ukraine were potentially at risk for mental disorders such as acute stress, anxiety, depression, substance use and post-traumatic stress disorder. That estimate, it said, was made before this week’s escalation of hostilities.

Mr. Kluge also warned that with the recent sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the country, the W.H.O. was bracing for an increase in respiratory diseases this autumn and winter as seasonal influenza circulated at the same time as the coronavirus.

[Source: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/10/15/world/russia-ukraine-war-news#the-world-health-organization-warns-that-a-brutal-winter-could-aggravate-the-humanitarian-crisis-in-ukraine]


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