Empty pharmacies, dwindling medical supplies a reality in Ukrainian port city 

 Empty pharmacies, dwindling medical supplies a reality in Ukrainian port city 
Courtesy of Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF)

The southeastern port city of Mariupol has borne the brunt of what Russia calls a “special operation” in Ukraine. Volunteers of the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) cope with the reality of empty pharmacies, dwindling medical supplies, and a lack of running water for patients in need.  

Hospitals are reporting a rising number of injured individuals as a result of the conflict, said an MSF staffer in Ukraine speaking under the pseudonym Lishchynska. 

“These people need urgent care. At the same time, hospitals are reporting that they are running out of supplies to treat these severe injuries,” he told BusinessWorld in a March 11 e-mail, adding that surgical instruments and trauma kits are needed. “It is crucial that more supplies — and the right supplies — are rushed to hospitals where they are needed as quickly as possible.”   

Romanian non-governmental organization Zibedine donated medicines, the first batch of which was delivered March 13. More are expected to arrive in the coming days.  

A hospital complex with a maternity ward was attacked a few days ago, according to Lishchynska.  

“While we cannot confirm that this was a targeted attack, we know from our staff that houses and hospitals have been damaged during the fighting over the past days…” he said. “Depriving people of much-needed health care is a violation of the laws of war. It is imperative that civilians and civilian infrastructure including health facilities be spared from attacks, and people’s right to seek health care and safety guaranteed.”  

Mariupol, which had a population of around 450,000 before the conflict, has been lacking food, water, and electricity since at least March 5, another on-the-ground staffer confirmed. 

“We saw people going to ground springs to get some water,” said MSF staffer Olexander (also a pseudonym) in a phone conversation with his coordinator, the audio files of which were shared with BusinessWorld. “In one place, we saw a truck with water from UNICEF [the United Nations’ children’s agency]. But it was only in one place and a huge, huge queue of people trying to get [that ration of water].”  

A majority of pharmacies and groceries, added Olexander, has already been emptied by residents who have nowhere to buy food and medicines.  

“There’s no fuel in the city anywhere. We have gas in our flat, but in some parts of the city, the gas has already been cut off. In the left bank, which is severely impacted, there is no gas as well,” he said. — Patricia B. Mirasol