War not only causes casualties, but also makes it difficult to treat sick people

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Inna Gavrylova and Irina Solovei - Alliance for Public Health
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    Syringe. Source: Pixabay.

Inna Gavrylova and Irina Solovei explains us how the war affected people affected by the HIV epidemic and humanitarian convoys.

The large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused many critical situations for Ukrainian society, such as damage to civilian infrastructure, government and military buildings, medical facilities, damage to energy systems, etc.

Enormous damage has been done to the healthcare system because now there is an acute shortage of medical workers. Some people have lost their homes, jobs, and relatives, so it greatly impacts mental health.

The war led to disruption of the supply chain, in particular: medical products; medicines; medical equipment; essential goods and foodstuffs. The consequences of the invasion were especially acute for those people who belong to risk groups, for example, HIV-positive patients, whose lives depend on daily antiretroviral treatment, and drug addicts – people receiving substitution therapy.

Unfortunately, we can state the fact that the war has caused a lack of treatment for people living with HIV. People living in the occupied territories with HIV cannot reach art sites (points where antiretroviral therapy drugs can be obtained) to receive medications, the transfer of drugs is also impossible.

Some ART sites have been destroyed. Military actions have a significant impact on the country's HIV service. "There is a decrease in HIV testing and more frequent detection of HIV already in the advanced stage of the disease. There is a massive migration of HIV patients, both within the country and abroad," said Olga Denisiuk from the Alliance for Public Health.

The situation with access to substitution therapy at the beginning of the war also became critical. Drug distribution sites closed, supplies ran out, and specialized drug delivery services simply refused to deliver the drugs.

For these reasons, starting from March 1, 2022, the Alliance has hired 14 cargo minibusses for the organization and additional transport for the transportation of necessary humanitarian and medical goods. The drivers were ordinary people, representatives of various professions, as well as Alliance employees who were ready to participate in transportation as volunteers.

Thanks to this, on March 28, the convoy was able to deliver 1.2 million methadone tablets from the warehouse in Vyshhorod (north of Kyiv) to Kremenchuk, Poltava, Sumy, Romny, Konotop, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Bilhorod-Dniester, Izmail, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil.

The Ministry of Health of Ukraine purchased these tablets. And on July 1, the Alliance convoy delivered 4 cargo vans with HIV tests, medicines, syringes and other preventive measures to Kramatorsk and Bakhmut, the cities closest to the front line.

During almost a year of the war, more than 2 million tons of humanitarian and medical goods were delivered throughout Ukraine. More than 1 million km of the total mileage of the humanitarian convoy. Cargoes were received by more than 200 medical institutions throughout Ukraine, including in the hottest and newly freed territories of Kherson and Kharkiv regions.

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