Ukraine: Health Workers Fear for Their Safety

08/30/2014
Map of Ukraine

Armed separatists in Ukraine are disrupting health-care services and threatening health professionals, forcing some medical staff to leave their jobs. Ed Holt reports.

Human rights organisations have called on both sides in the Ukrainian conflict to respect the neutrality of medical workers amid reports of medical staff being threatened as they do their work, medical equipment being stolen, and the treatment of civilian patients being compromised.

The conflict has already put health-care services in the region under extra pressure as fighting disrupts medical supplies and injured combatants require treatment. People have also been killed as hospitals have been shelled during fighting. But health-care workers—even those well away from the front lines of battle—say they fear for their safety, not because of fighting, but because of the behaviour of armed separatists.

Ole Solvang, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who spent weeks in east Ukraine talking to medical workers, told The Lancet: “Medics told us they were afraid for their lives not just because they were in a war zone but because of the way insurgents were acting towards health-care services.”

Full article continues at: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61424-0/fulltext