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Majority of Ukrainian population needs psychosocial support due to war - Serhii Dubrov at WHO meeting

30 January 2024

At the 154th session of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization in Geneva, the report of the WHO Director-General on the implementation of the WHO resolution on the public health emergency in Ukraine due to the full-scale invasion was considered.

“We often hear that health should not be part of the political agenda. Or that WHO is not a platform for political discussions. However, russia’s war against Ukraine continues, and we have to keep drawing attention to this brutal war and remind everyone once again of its impact on global health,” said the head of the Ukrainian delegation, First Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine Serhii Dubrov.

In his speech, Serhii Dubrov drew attention to the devastating consequences of the ongoing russian attacks on the healthcare sector. Ukraine’s healthcare sector is one of the most affected. To date, according to the WHO, more than 1,498 attacks have been recorded on medical facilities alone, killing 112 people and injuring 225.

Serhii Dubrov also noted the critical impact of russian aggression on the mental health of Ukrainian citizens, drawing attention to the fact that the majority of the Ukrainian population needs psychosocial support.

The delegation held some bilateral meetings. In particular, a meeting was held with the Director General of the Directorate General of Health — Canton of Geneva, Adrien Brone. During the meeting, the parties discussed the provision of medical care to Ukrainian refugees, who number more than 70,000 in the canton. They also discussed the possibility of employing Ukrainian psychologists under the supervision of Swiss colleagues to provide psychosocial assistance to refugees.

With the leadership of the Geneva University Hospital, they discussed the provision of assistance to Ukrainian refugees and the possibility of cooperation with Ukrainian hospitals, including through telemedicine consultations.

During the meeting with Devora Castel, Director of the WHO Mental Health Department, they discussed the draft resolution “Strengthening Mental Health and Psychosocial Support before, during, and after Armed Conflict, natural and Human-made Disasters, Public Health and Other Emergencies” and its further implementation. In addition, the parties shared their experience in creating multidisciplinary psychosocial assistance teams.

During the meeting with Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Emergency Health Program, the parties discussed the provision of medical care in emergencies and additional funding from WHO for Ukraine’s needs resulting from the war.

It should be recalled that Ukraine and the Kingdom of the Netherlands authored the resolution “Strengthening mental health and psychosocial support before, during and after armed conflicts, natural and human-made disasters, public health and other emergencies”. To date, 12 WHO member states have initiated a draft resolution aimed at strengthening prevention, promotion, protection, and assistance related to mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies.