On June 23, a shipment of medical respirators and masks, goggles, face shields and gowns for healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Ukraine, arrived in the country.
The delivery of around one million units of personal protective equipment (PPE), funded by the European Union and procured by WHO in cooperation with the rest of the UN system, includes 500,000 medical masks, 125,000 respirators, 250,000 gowns, 50,000 face shields and 2,500 goggles. These supplies cover the personal protection needs for 50 COVID-19 frontline hospitals in all regions of Ukraine for a minimum of one month at full capacity.
All items have been checked to ensure they meet quality and safety standards for healthcare workers on the frontline.
Head of the Local and Human Development Section of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Frederik Coene and WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine Dr. Jarno Habicht met the plane early this morning at Boryspil Airport.
Upon customs clearance at customs, the supplies will be distributed by the WHO Country Office according to the needs of the healthcare facilities identified by the Ministry of Health in Ukraine.
These supplies are part of a larger assistance package of the European Union, and its Solidarity for Health Initiative, which is implemented in partnership with the WHO Regional Office for Europe and aims to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The delivery of laboratory supplies (equipment, consumables, reagents) is also ongoing with further deliveries expected within two weeks.
Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, Mr Artur Gebal said: “The arrival of this support is very timely. Health care workers bear the biggest risk of being infected with COVID-19, while also being at the very frontline of fighting it. Over 6,000 COVID-19 patients in Ukraine are healthcare workers. Over 50 hospitals throughout Ukraine will now be able to cover their safety equipment needs for a month and ensure safe working conditions for their staff.”
He added: “We have partnered up with the World Health Organisation to deliver this important cargo of personal protective equipment – masks, gowns, goggles, other necessary tools so that frontline workers can protect themselves while helping others.”
“The United Nations is immensely grateful to the European Union for its partnership with WHO, enabling us to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in Ukraine. The occasion of receiving the PPEs is a moment to recognize frontline health workers; men and I should note disproportionately, women; on whom we all depend. COVID-19 can infect any one of us, regardless of age, place of residence, political views or social status. While the PPEs are vital, let us not forget that we all have a role to play in combating the virus by taking the most basic precautionary measures seriously: physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing hands, among others, so we can stay healthy as a population and relieve the pressure on the brave men and women that work in hospitals across Ukraine”. – noted UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Osnat Lubrani.
Dr. Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine, said: “Healthcare workers treat patients, save lives, help people. They are heroes, but they are not superhuman. When doing their everyday jobs, they should not be placing themselves at high risk of contracting COVID-19. They need our support and proper protective equipment to stay safe.”
“Thanks to the European Union for the crucial contribution, which allows us to organize this delivery of personal protective equipment for 50 COVID-19 dedicated hospitals in Ukraine. The personal protective equipment will enable health care workers throughout the country to respond effectively and safely to the pandemic,” he added.
‘These tools are the medical shields for Ukrainian doctors at the forefront of the pandemic,’ said OIga Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. It is important to unite the efforts of the international community in a difficult time of a pandemic added her. “Coordination is crucial to provide the vital resources where they are most needed. Only together we can overcome such a large-scale threats as coronavirus. We highly appreciate the efforts of the United Nations, in particular World Health Organization, for the assistance to Ukraine and we thank the European Union for its support and financial contribution to save the lives of Ukrainian citizens and overcome the consequences of the pandemic."
‘Ukraine, like the rest of the world, is grasping/learning to respond effectively to the COVID-19 outbreak yet. Our response was prompt and structured. We have introduced quarantine early enough and began to create a need in case of the epidemic. The Ministry of Health is grateful to the World Health Organization (WHO) for its engagement in the process of response at the systemic level. From the very beginning of the pandemic, the WHO provides a technical advice to Ukraine, as well as supports the development of standards, and helps to coordinate the efforts to combat the spread of the disease, highlighted the State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Viktor Lyashko.
"Through the partnership with WHO we are able to further protect health workers who are at the forefront of this struggle," added Mr. Lyashko.
The delivery of the personal protective equipment is part of the European Union’s response to the outbreak of COVID-19, currently affecting 216 countries and territories. For Ukraine, the EU is providing a COVID-response package totaling €190 million.
The funds will be used to support the urgent, short-term emergency response to the health crisis, strengthen health systems in the mid- and long term and address economic and social consequences of the crisis.
The project builds upon the European Union’s and WHO’s ongoing support to Ukraine.
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“Solidarity for Health Initiative” is a joint effort of the European Union and the WHO Regional Office for Europe in six countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The project is aimed to help prevent, detect and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood’s capacity to respond to public health emergencies. The project is implemented by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and WHO country offices, in close coordination with EU Delegations, national authorities and development partners, including those in the United Nations system.
Background information about the role of WHO in COVID-19 response: The role of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine is to support the country in creating and strengthening policies for sustainable health development. This includes providing technical guidance in public health-related issues, supporting the development of standards and guidelines, building up local relationships for efficient technical cooperation, and ensuring that public health measures are coordinated and in place during crises.
Currently, the Country Office in Ukraine is focusing its work on COVID-19 response and cooperation with the health authorities and other institutions involved in the country-level coordination, planning, and monitoring, case investigation, infection prevention and control. WHO has been supporting improving the national and regional capacities to diagnose COVID-19 via the national laboratory system, and also improving clinical standards and approaches in the country.