Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by heavy fighting in eastern and southeastern Ukraine have sought refuge in the Dnipropetrovsk region and the city of Zaporizhzhia, according to local authorities.
Host communities have turned all possible places into shelters for displaced people, including homes, schools, churches, sports complexes, offices, administrative buildings and hotels.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has extended its activities to areas close to the front line and to places hosting people who have fled their homes. MSF mobile clinic teams provide medical and psychological care to displaced people living in more than 70 shelters in and around Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia.
“We see a lot of elderly people, people with disabilities and people who can’t afford to travel further west in Ukraine or abroad,” said Célia Burnand, MSF project coordinator in Dnipro. and Zaporizhzhia. “Our job is to complement the impressive work of local authorities, volunteers, health and social workers and to ensure that people who have had incredibly traumatic experiences receive the medical and psychological care they need. “
Each mobile clinic team is made up of a doctor, a nurse, a psychologist and a health educator. Physicians provide medical consultations and medications, connect patients with specialists if needed, and refer seriously ill people to local hospitals. They currently carry out an average of 60 consultations per day.
“We see many patients suffering from chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and epilepsy,” said Dr Sasha Sholokov, MSF’s head of medical activities. “The conflict makes it difficult for them to get the regular care and medication they need, and we need to make sure their condition doesn’t get worse.
Psychologists provide initial psychological care, also called psychological first aid, to newly arrived people, as well as individual and group mental health sessions for adults and children. Since April 25, MSF teams have provided more than 200 mental health consultations. They also conduct trainings for Ukrainian first responders on the administration of psychological first aid.
“The situation has become more complicated for many people we see,” said Lina Villa, head of mental health activities at MSF. “At first they intended to return home to Donetsk and Luhansk, but now they realize that is becoming less and less likely. They know that everything in their home has been destroyed and they cannot return to their old life. They face a lot of uncertainty, and I see some starting to lose the hope they had a few months ago. We try to help them regain a sense of control in a totally unpredictable situation.
MSF has teams supporting people displaced by the conflict in many parts of Ukraine, including Berehove, Chernihiv, Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kropyvnytskyi, Mukacheve, Uzhhorod, Vinnytsia and Zaporizhzhia.