European Health Leaders to Likely to Sanction Russia for Attacks on Healthcare in Ukraine
Dr Tedros visited Kyiv in Ukraine over the weekend.

Russia’s war on Ukraine and its impact on healthcare in the region is the focus of a special session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe on Tuesday, as the latest figures show over 200 verified attacks on health facilities.

Ukraine, backed by 38 other member countries including Germany and the UK, requested the session to discuss the attacks on health facilities, the disruption of healthcare including routine vaccinations, the impact of the war on healthcare in the region strained by refugees, and the danger of radiation and chemical events.

Also on the table at the session is a resolution to sanction Russia, a member of WHO Europe, for its attack on Ukraine. This is may result in the relocation of the WHO’s European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases from Moscow, which has been requested by the Ukraine health ministry.

Over the past three days, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO head of health emergencies, Dr Mike Ryan, have been in Ukraine, where they handed over 20 all-terrain ambulances, generators and blood refrigerators to the country’s Deputy Health Minister, Iryna Mykychak. 

Addressing a media briefing on Sunday weekend, Ryan described “intentional attacks on healthcare facilities” as war crime, adding that he trusted that the United Nations and the International Criminal Court was investigating all transgressions.


Tedros also met with other senior government leaders to assess the current health needs in Ukraine and visited health facilities damaged during the war.

“WHO is committed to supporting people in Ukraine in accessing much-needed health services. The donation of 20 ambulances will bring lifesaving care as Ukraine’s health services have been significantly stretched and access to health care remains a challenge for many people,” said Dr Jarno Habicht, Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine. 

“One of the health workers we spoke to remembered how during the days of constant shelling in their city, ambulances continued to operate even during curfew to ensure people received the care they needed. We are inspired by the bravery of Ukrainian health workers and hope this donation will contribute to their work.”

“Due to the severe disruption to the Ukrainian health system, including routine immunization activities, there are serious concerns about possible infectious disease outbreaks, including measles outbreaks,” the WHO said in its latest situational report on the crisis.

G7 leaders also resolved over the weekend to impose further sanctions on Russia, including phasing out or banning the import of Russian oil. The US also announced further measures against Russian oligarchs and Russia’s gas company.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited to Ukraine on Sunday and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, while US First Lady Jill Biden visited mothers and children to express her solidarity on Mother’s Day.

The Ukrainian war unexpectedly disrupted Monday’s meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), due to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on various sectors. Numerous delegates walked out of the meeting after Russia claimed it was acting against genocide in Ukraine.

Earlier, Russia had started the meeting by condemning “Nazi activity”, prompting condemnation from Australia, Japan, the US, European and Baltic states –  and an appeal from China for all countries to respect each other’s sovereignty and avoid conflict.







Image Credits: WHO.

Combat the infodemic in health information and support health policy reporting from the global South. Our growing network of journalists in Africa, Asia, Geneva and New York connect the dots between regional realities and the big global debates, with evidence-based, open access news and analysis. To make a personal or organisational contribution click here on PayPal.