Hundreds of staff and patients have been forced to live in psychiatric hospitals in Ukraine as the conflict has left them homeless, while hospital bosses warn they could run out of medicine within a month.
In an interview with the independentDr. Yuriy Zakal, deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Association of Psychiatrists in Ukraine, and Dr. Serhiy Mykhnyak, chief psychiatrist, said Ukraine’s psychiatric hospitals were in a “disturbing” situation, as units in the eastern parts of the city was surrounded.
Doctors said there was a “pure” need for drugs in all hospitals and there was a risk that they would run out within a month, affecting the treatment of acutely ill patients.
Following a conference call with prominent colleagues on Friday, the reported stories spoke of mental health patients living in “terrible conditions,” with “limited food storage.”
Doctors said that in one hospital there were “fifty patients who are still homeless and more than a hundred staff members who live in the hospital, because they have nowhere to return.”
Speaking about the impact on mental health patients, they said: “We experience a great need for medication for acute patients attending our hospital.”
He said there are hundreds of patients who cannot be discharged because they need full-time care, many of them “severely disabled” who are very difficult to move to bomb shelters.
Doctors said his hospital saw 30 to 40 patients admitted for care every day, including some military officers who suffered from mental illness.
“We hope there will be more cases because we have a growth in our patients who came from other districts of the country.”
The couple warned that “any hospital is at risk of seeing them [Russian Military] don’t make a difference.”
“We feel very unanimous support from the European community,” they said, but added, “a great demand from many people in Ukraine that we are asking to help us close in the sky, because there is a great threat coming from rocket bombardment.” .
Dmytro Martsenkovskyi, a Kiev-based psychiatrist, said the independent As the Ukrainian psychiatrist’s care was very centralized care and hospitals located in cities being bombed, many patients receiving outpatient care are unable to reach these hospitals to obtain their medication.
He added that “many children or adults who are in general hospitals simply do not have a supply of medicines.”
Dr Martsenkovskyi said that “the most vulnerable, of course, at the moment are children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and autism. Because just like they were getting, especially those with ADHD, they were getting drugs that weren’t officially on the market. So, in most cases, their parents brought this drug abroad from European universities, and of course at the moment it is impossible.”
He also said that patients with the onset of acute illnesses, such as mental health emergencies, cannot reach hospitals due to limited travel within cities and ambulances have to focus on physical health emergencies.
The psychiatrist, who specializes in child mental health, said there is even a lack of access to psychiatric support within hospitals, as staff are unable to get to work.
Violation of international law
Talking with the independent Emmanuele Capobianco, head of strategy and impact at the World Health Organization Foundation, said the attacks on health facilities were a “serious violation of international law” and their protection must be a priority for all parties.
He said that humanitarian organizations “cannot stop the bombs”, he said that it is “out there for others to make those decisions that can provide safe access to health services that people and there is an urgent need to ensure that happens, without more delays. We have already lost a very high number of lives that are not going to come back”
The WHO director said that the provision of health services in Ukraine was moving from hospitals to “underground”, he said that there were about 60 health facilities at the moment that were “not working”.
He said: “We understand that there are a number of frail elderly patients who have no ability to move [who are] in a condition that is less than adequate, where the transmission of diseases, of course, increases, which can include Covid on the one hand, but it can also include other diseases such as tuberculosis or vaccine-preventable diseases, measles.
“A major cause for concern on top of that is that we have the indication of supply shortages, medical supplies for chronic conditions that will inevitably negatively affect people who have chronic conditions like cancer, like diabetes.”
The WHO Foundation has launched an appeal for donations to support the WHO in delivering emergency medical aid to Ukraine and to refugees in neighboring countries.