Ukraine healthcare system at breaking point, says WHO

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Aleksandr, who has cerebral palsy, carries his son Ivan. UNHCR/E.Ziyatdinova

Ukraine’s healthcare system is at risk of collapse and access to medical help is dire for people trapped by the fighting, according to the UN health agency.

Amid an upsurge in the violence in the east of the country, World Health Organization (WHO) experts said more than 5.1 million people are in need.

Of that number WHO believes that 1.4 million are highly vulnerable and require humanitarian aid.

Access is particularly difficult to the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk because of shelling and fighting, WHO's Dr Dorit Nitzan told reporters in Geneva:

"The health system in Ukraine has been weak already prior to the crisis but is now completely collapsing especially in the eastern areas where the fighting continues. People are trapped in two cities in Lugansk and Donetsk where no assistance for many days can come come in."

Dr Nitzan said that hospitals in the cities controlled by pro-Russian fighters lacked power, water and food, while the lack of medicines is "immense".

She said that WHO is helping those in need in eastern Ukraine but also all over the country, where more than one million people have been displaced by the conflict.

Children are particularly at risk as vaccine coverage drops, while tuberculosis and HIV sufferers lack the full package of drugs they need, WHO said.

Latest UN figures show that 4,808 people have been killed and 10,468 wounded since the signing of the Minsk ceasefire agreement last September.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations.

Duration:   1’35″

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