Public Health Fakes: female doctors flee from mobilization to temporarily occupied territories. Issue #70

Public Health Fakes: female doctors flee from mobilization to temporarily occupied territories. Issue #70

Photo: / ArturVerkhovetskiy
9 November 2023

Kremlin propagandists are disturbed by the enlistment of women in medical and pharmaceutical specialties in Ukraine. Once again, they are inventing fakes about the “mass escape of female doctors from the country.” Now, they are supposedly “fleeing” to temporarily occupied territories. Propagandists also distort news about the creation of a reserve of medical workers by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

With the support of the USAID Health Reform Support project, VoxCheck analyzes and refutes public health narratives spread in the information space of Ukraine, Belarus, and russia on a weekly basis.

Disinformation: Female doctors go to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine due to mobilization

Kremlin propagandists are once again manipulating the topic of mobilization, claiming that women medics are leaving Ukraine for temporarily occupied territories. As “evidence,” they cite a recorded conversation with a female doctor from Lviv who allegedly wants to move to the occupied Mariupol and is looking for accommodation. Supposedly, the woman received a draft notice, and that’s why she wants to leave. The post also adds that starting from November 1, even people with disabilities can be mobilized into the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Screenshot of the post

What’s the reality?

The reverse search of individual frames from this video on Google Images showed that the recording is being disseminated only by Russian-language sources, specifically Kremlin media or users supporting Russia. Additionally, the video contains some illogical moments. Firstly, it appears staged, as the woman seems to be reading from a prepared script.

Secondly, the video does not audibly capture the woman’s name. A Ukrainian woman choosing to work in the temporarily occupied territories is inconsistent, given that the departure of women, including healthcare workers, abroad is not restricted. Even if the woman holds pro-Russian views, she would likely seek employment in Russia itself or in the temporarily occupied Crimea. The Russians have illogically constructed a fake, as conditions in Mariupol are significantly worse due to Russian war crimes and the potential for shelling.

Furthermore, in the video, propagandists not only aimed to discredit Ukraine but also to portray Russia positively. For instance, the woman mentions that she is interested in an apartment only in a newly constructed building, subtly suggesting that Russia is “rebuilding” Mariupol. She also states that she wants to work at City Hospital No. 3 in Mariupol. This is the same hospital with a maternity ward that Russians destroyed at the beginning of the invasion, and the footage of which circulated worldwide.

Starting October 1, 2023, women in medical professions, including doctors, pharmacists, dentists, midwives, and others, must enroll in military registration. However, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine emphasizes that this procedure has been in place since 1992, and the majority of women in medical professions are already on military registration. Women have a three-year window for enrollment, with the final deadline set for December 31, 2026. Although the overall mobilization of women into the army is voluntary, those on military registration may be called for military service or mobilized for tasks related to ensuring the defense of the country.

In the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, it is mentioned that the enrollment of women in military registration is necessary for consolidating data on the reserve of medical professionals in Ukraine. Receiving a notice or being placed on military registration for women in medical professions does not imply immediate deployment to the front lines.

Source: Law of Ukraine “On Military Duty and Military Service”

Indeed, individuals with disabilities can be called to the army, but only with their consent (under the law “On Mobilization Training and Mobilization”). They will serve in the military within the region where they are registered or reside.

Disinformation: Through the reserve of medical workers, they may be forcibly redirected to other regions or to the front

Propagandists are spreading information claiming that the reserve of medical workers is being created to:

  • forcibly transfer medical workers to new workplaces in other regions of the country at the request of local administration;
  • send reserve doctors to the front.

What’s the reality?

The Ministry of Health of Ukraine is indeed working on creating a personnel reserve of healthcare workers for employment in liberated and future deoccupied territories. The system will include information about the need for personnel in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Kherson regions, and so on.

This involves voluntary assignments, not compulsory transfers. The reserve will operate as an electronic system, where healthcare workers will be direct users. According to the Procedure for creating the reserve, enrollment will be voluntary. Each healthcare worker will have a personal account to exchange information and documents with other users. Hospitals, on their part, will input data into the system regarding their personnel needs. The website administrator will act as an intermediary between hospitals and healthcare workers, sending requests to healthcare workers for direction to a specific healthcare institution based on the needs of the hospitals.

The reserve is not intended for mobilization. The mobilization of healthcare workers in conditions of martial law is carried out on the same terms and in the same order as the mobilization of all other population categories. According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, the system will interact with the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs, Public Formations, and the Unified State Electronic Database on Education to obtain information about the professional qualifications of medical workers. There is no mention of a connection with the “Oberig” registry of conscripts.

According to the Deputy Minister of Health for Digital Development, Mariia Karchevych, the system of deployments to the front-line territories has already proven its effectiveness, although the electronic reserve has not yet been activated. “We deploy medical workers for two to four weeks with rotation. We have gathered all willing from all regions of the country. This is over 1,000 workers who expressed a desire to go to the occupied and front-line territories and help their colleagues. For the reinforcement of hospitals in the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, 196 volunteer medics have already been involved. Most of the medics have worked or are still working in Kherson region—146 people, and another 48—in Mykolaiv region. Recently, medics have also been recruited for healthcare facilities in the Zaporizhzhia region.”

Source: Ministry of Health of Ukraine 

The relevant deployments are carried out within the framework of the project, supporting the capacity of healthcare institutions in the Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Zaporizhzhia regions due to the explosion at the Kakhovska Hydroelectric Station. The project is supported by the World Health Organization. In addition to their salaries, volunteers receive additional compensation and coverage of expenses related to transportation and accommodation.

This information piece was produced with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), provided on behalf of the people of the United States of America. This article’s content, which does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, is the sole responsibility of Deloitte Consulting under contract #72012118C00001.


The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations