WHO donates ambulances to Humanosh Foundation for cross-border medevac operations in Ukraine and Poland
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has donated four additional ambulances for medical evacuation and repatriation operations from Ukraine to Poland. WHO funding has enabled the Humanosh Foundation to purchase previously owned vans, which are subsequently converted into emergency ambulances. These retrofitted units are a critical element in the medical evacuation operation, known as medevac. Following the handover ceremony in Rzeszów, they will soon be deployed to the field, reinforcing medevac convoys and saving the lives of Ukrainian patients. The increased fleet of ambulances will allow the transport of more patients from further areas of Ukraine.
In Ukraine, the inoperability of medical facilities, an increasing number of civilian casualties and months of disruption of services for patients with severe chronic illnesses have made clear the need to refer and evacuate patients for life-saving treatment in other European countries, including Poland.
The ambulances adapted for emergency use ensure patient safety and a professional evacuation from Ukraine. The medical vehicles will enable immediate evacuation and life-sustaining treatment, transporting critically ill patients from hospitals across Ukraine to the Medevac Hub in Poland. The retrofitted ambulances will help to enhance the operational capacity of cross-border medical transport.
“Our medevac activities depend not only on the human factor and proper teamwork but largely on the number of ambulances in operation and their technical condition. The impact of harsh winter months and bad road conditions will soon require our ambulances to be serviced. In conjunction with the deteriorating situation and surge of patients, this could seriously jeopardize our ability to respond in time. But today, I feel relieved and confident that this will not happen,” explains Jakub Bałaban, a paramedic and head of the Humanosh medevac team.
The donation includes four patient transport ambulances adjusted to operate in conflict areas and equipped with oxygen tanks, defibrillators, portable ventilators and other medical equipment that will allow the transportation of seriously injured patients from Ukraine to the Medevac Hub in Poland.
Up until now, the Medevac Hub project, directed by the ministries of health in Poland and Ukraine, with support from WHO and the European Union (EU), has successfully coordinated over 2 000 medical evacuations of Ukrainian patients under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Welcoming the handover, Dr Paloma Cuchί, WHO Representative in Poland, summed up why ambulance donations and medevac operations are so crucial: “Twelve months of conflict have had a catastrophic impact on the health and lives of Ukrainian people and placed a significant strain on Poland, where many refugees seek safety and protection. The number of wounded people in Ukraine increases daily, pushing its health system to a critical point. Our role today is to ensure and provide life-saving treatment to severely ill patients and relieve the affected health-care system. Cooperation between WHO, the Ministry of Health of Poland, national and international partners makes these achievements possible. The donation is tangible evidence of such collaboration and support for Ukrainian patients and Polish paramedics”.
WHO is working with governments and partners to provide emergency health services, improve local health services and include refugees in national health systems and plans.
Besides the medevac and emergency medical teams initiative, WHO has successfully launched a pilot treatment programme for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), procured HIV/AIDS drugs, and set up a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Technical Working Group in Poland for the coordination of MHPSS services, to help clarify the needs, provide guidance, translate health information into Ukrainian and provide technical support to partners.
WHO works with all actors to achieve health for all, through peace promotion and its advocacy role. This includes signalling the impact of sanctions on health-care systems, promoting the safe delivery and arrival of health care without the threat of violence, supporting health mediation when political mediation actors cannot enter this space, and providing solid scientific evidence of the impact of armed conflicts on health.
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