But as more than half a million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, global health officials fear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be the latest reminder of a grim lesson — that war and disease are close companions, and the humanitarian and refugee crises now unfolding in Eastern Europe will lead to long-lasting health consequences, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
As Russia’s military campaign accelerates, Ukraine’s hospitals are running out of critical medical supplies as travel is increasingly choked off by the conflict. The country’s health workers and patients are relocating to makeshift shelters, seeking to escape explosions. Meanwhile, officials at the World Health Organization, United Nations, U.S. State Department and other organizations warn of rising civilian casualties and new pressures on the region’s fragile health-care systems.
“What we’re dealing with now in Ukraine is a double crisis,” said Máire Connolly, a global health professor at the National University of Ireland Galway who has studied the link between conflict and disease. In an interview, Connolly said she was worried not just about threats from the coronavirus pandemic but also those from Ukraine’s polio outbreak, which global experts had sought to quell for months. She also said she fears the potential resurgence of tuberculosis during the current conflict.
– Ukraine’s hospitals are running out of critical supplies
– Health workers, patients being forced to makeshift shelters
– Global experts fear covid, polio spikes
A look at war + disease, twin companions.
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) March 1, 2022