And again the phone. Our partner organisation Vostok SOS started a Corona telephone hotline, in addition to the general humanitarian hotline they have been running since the outbreak of the war in Eastern Ukraine in 2014. This time it´s a physician calling. The hospital where she works is in no way whatsoever prepared for Corona patients, she says. It lacks the capacities to isolate patients from one another. It lacks protective clothing for medical personal. Currently, it possesses only simple masks, and of those only few. If any of the staff, physicians or nurses, would fall ill, the hospital would collapse as they are understaffed anyway.

Such calls for support seem to come from the whole region. Hospitals, polyclinics and medical care points (FAP) lack almost everything they need to meet the current challenges. In zones of active conflict, health care was precarious even before the outbreak of Corona. Due to the ongoing war, medical personal moved on to other parts of Ukraine. Resident doctors are well beyond retirement age. They cannot quit, as there is no junior staff to take over.

At the same time, the population of the conflict zone is particularly vulnerable in case of a Covid-19 outbreak. Whereas young families moved out of the conflict zone, the older generation stayed. Particularly in the villages close to the frontline it is mostly the elderly or handicapped citizens living there – those who cannot simply leave. Even before Corona, their access to health care was limited. With the pandemic, the situation deteriorated. Public transportation stopped, hospitals refuse to take in patients, capacities in polyclinics and medical points are overstretched. In addition, all of these places become risky exposure – particularly for the elderly.

Medical personal is under immense pressure. They are expected to make the impossible possible without significant state support, without having the resources to accomplish this mission, and without being able to protect themselves. Together with our partner organisation Vostok SOS we are now supporting humanitarian and medical aid, Corona-prevention, medical care and psychological support of medical staff in the conflict zone of East Ukraine.

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