HealthCare Workers (HCWs) are essential for the delivery of healthcare services in areas of war and in rebuilding health systems in post-war time. During the war in Ukraine, healthcare personnel are being targeted in attacks, ambulances are shot or being denied to perform its duties, pharmacies are being destroyed.
These attacks are a threat not only towards HCWs themselves, but towards entire healthcare systems. Additional range of incidents reported includes direct attacks on teaching locations of medical universities in Kharkiv, Sumy, Donetsk and Lugansk; indirect attacks inhibiting students' access to medical education, due to severe armed combat or occupation of the territory by troops of russian federation. The attacks on medical education have a shocking effect on healthcare services as they affect the development of HCWs workforces, which are already under troubling and serious shortages. Even though this problem is really complex, however, the main focus is the need of the patient for access to healthcare, which is part of Human Right to Health in accordance with International Humanitarian Law (IHRL). This law also applies to protecting the right to education. The Ukrainian health system depends on its educational structures, which facilitates training of an adequate supply of health professionals. Inadequate levels of physicians are associated with increased population disease burden and a reduction in health system performance.
The impact of russian invasion on medical education and as result on inadequate health system performance now and in the future is unquestionable. We, as a brave team of Kyiv Medical University (hereinafter-KMU) wondered what we could do to address these problems. Given the complex nature of the threats it is impossible to solve the problem ourselves in Ukraine. Together with international partners we can provide addressed help and undertake a brave mission "Ukrainian Medical Education under Fire: Healthcare in Danger". The main goal of the mission is to save the next generation HCWs and also assuring continuation of their training.
What we can do is to relocate
a part of the KMU community to the EU to organize:
- on the 1st stage: to arrange Summer Clinical Practical (Clerkship)
, so students and residents will have access to hospitals, clinics and pharmacies
in order to master necessary practical skills required by the Study Programs;
- on the 2nd stage: to arrange face-to-face continuous training
in the safe environment in Poland according to the Ukrainian study programs with Ukrainian and English language of instruction.Realization of this mission requires significant financial resources. Unfortunately, due to the uncertainty of the situation, KMU has limited resources and very complicated financial planning. Ukrainian students and residents simply don't have the possibility to pay because all sources of income were cut off as the Ukrainian economy isn't functioning properly, while international students are at risk of interrupting the training and not certain about the possibility of returning to Ukraine for completion of their studies. All those aspects cause enormous tuition fee debts. Therefore, we need donor support to complete this mission on a co-funding basis.
Direct violence by russian occupants in the ongoing war, an insecure environment and damaged medical infrastructure resulting from attacks have also led to increases in the migration rate of HCWs, which already have negative economic implications of medical brain drain. Thus, faced with a choice between unremitting insecurity or fleeing, many medical students and physicians choose to interrupt their studies. To compensate for shortage of qualified providers, another category of medical students and early-grade doctors were forced to cease their training to provide healthcare, despite the fact that they did not have full qualifications. This portends an important gap in supply of skilled medical doctors in coming years. More immediately, as many such providers worked beyond their training and skills, taking on more responsibility without the usual training and mentorship, patients are obviously at risk, particularly when health workers are forced to manage war trauma and chemical attacks. This crisis also reduced access to educational medical books and academic exchange, and drove down academic and clinical standards. Additionally, medical schools are facing challenges in staff recruitment and adequate resource provision.
The future of the University with 30 years heritage and of thousands community members are at great risk and need your support!
During the crisis, health must remain a priority pillar, with the future HCWs being protected, so they can continue to study and subsequently save lives. In such an uncertain and tragic situation, we hope that worlds' community will stand for Ukraine and support future HCWs of our country. Moreover, in conflict-affected situations education is also about more than service delivery because it is a means of socialization and identity development through the transmission of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes across generations.
On the governmental level, lots of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians has been shown already through the leadership of presidents of various countries and by many politicians. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said at the time: "Europe stands by those in need of protection. All those fleeing Putin's bombs are welcome in Europe. We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home."
EU member states agreed on 3 March to waive visa rules for Ukrainians fleeing the russian invasion of our country, giving us the right to stay in the EU for one year without a visa, with the possibility of that period being extended if needed. Under the activation of the EU's Temporary Protection Directive
, Ukrainians can stay within the EU or Schengen zone for 12 months without having either to apply for a visa or make a claim for asylum and during that time will have access to education and jobs.
We are grateful to all Ukraine's partners who help. But we emphasize again and again that if we do not relocate our community, then the gap in supply of health professionals will be difficult to compensate – particularly when war is ongoing.
It is worth mentioning that some important preliminary steps have been taken in order to complete the mission of relocation. Thanks to the tremendous support from the local Polish authorities of Silesia, it became possible to find premises suitable for educational purposes, even though they require some refurbishing prior to the fall semester of 2022. Another piece of support provided from the local Polish authorities and other KMU partners from the EU is in an area of arranging the access to clinical facilities to KMU students and residents. As of now numerous clinics have signed agreements to become our affiliated partners. Please, consider becoming one donors and making a personal contribution to the mission "Ukrainian Medical Education under Fire: Healthcare in Danger". It will have a long term effect in making sure that the Ukrainian health system is functioning properly and also what is important is that students and academics can carry on with their studies, clinical practice and scientific research in a usual manner somewhere in the safe environment and that they can return home at any time.
We ask Doctors, Nurses, HealthCare Workers and Medical Students from around the world to express solidarity with your Ukrainian colleagues! We ask all caring people to help the future Ukrainian HealthCare Workers! This option, or prospect, is vital, please, make your donation!