Remarks by the Director-General of WHO during a press conference with Ukrainian Minister of Health Viktor Liashko in Kyiv – Ukraine

Your Excellency Mr. Viktor Liashko,

Members of the media,

Good evening and thank you all for being with us this evening.

I spent the last two days in Ukraine and was deeply moved by what I saw and what I heard.

I also had the honor of meeting Prime Minister Schmyhal, Deputy Foreign Minister Dzhaparova and others.

We discussed the health situation in Ukraine and how WHO can best support the Ministry of Health to provide care in conflict areas, as well as to maintain care for those who need it in all over Ukraine.

My time here touched me very personally. As a person – myself, having grown up in a war zone myself, I understand only too well what Ukrainians feel – the worry for family and friends, the fear, the sense of loss, etc

Because I know the impact, I know the devastation of war first hand. And I felt very, very sad when Russia invaded Ukraine because I know its impact and devastation.

However, I saw extraordinary resilience – people who suffered loss and destruction but did not give up.

They continued, repairing essential services to prevent this destruction from driving a deeper hole in their lives.

I have seen the damage inflicted on health structures and listened to the stories of harm – physical and mental – inflicted on health workers.

They are people whose primary motivation is to protect health and life.

The WHO has now verified 200 attacks on health care in Ukraine since the start of the war. These attacks must stop. Health is never a target.

While I have seen and learned of great suffering, I have also seen bravery, humor, kindness, and heard stories of the spontaneous and often resourceful ways people have found to help each other and protect.

Some of those I speak of are our own WHO staff who, despite having lost their homes, fear for their families, face daily uncertainty and have continued to work to meet the health needs of the Ukrainian population.

Our team in Ukraine worked hard to help the country build an ever stronger healthcare system before the war. And this work will continue.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the WHO has delivered trauma and emergency supplies for use in more than 15,000 surgeries and enough medicine and health equipment to serve 650,000 people.

We have also provided 15 diesel generators to supply electricity to hospitals and health facilities – some in newly accessible areas of Kyiv Oblast which I just visited this afternoon and we will hand over 20 ambulances tomorrow.

WHO has also supported or coordinated more than 50 emergency medical teams in Ukraine and neighboring countries hosting refugees, and over the past few months we have trained thousands of Ukrainian health care providers on how to deal with massive losses.

This includes training in hospital blood transfusions in conflict situations, traumatic limb injuries, emergency nursing and essential burn care.

We also established three health centers in western Ukraine to support medical evacuations and ensured safe medical evacuation of patients, including those with cancer, for treatment outside Ukraine.

These are just a few examples of the work we do.

I was deeply moved by the resilience of the Ukrainian people, the bravery of Ukrainian health workers, the dedication of our own WHO staff and the commitment of the Ministry of Health under their leadership and the Ukrainian government to protect the health in these terrible circumstances.

My message to the Minister and to all the people of Ukraine is that the WHO stands by you. We will do all we can to support the government in its efforts to treat the injured, maintain health services, and repair and strengthen the Ukrainian health system.

But there is one medicine that the WHO cannot provide and that Ukraine needs more than any other, and that is peace.

We therefore continue to call on the Russian Federation to stop this war.

Thank you. Дякую [Dyakuyu].

Media contacts: [email protected]

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