Public Health Fakes: Lack of doctors and blood donors in Kharkiv. Issue 121

Public Health Fakes: Lack of doctors and blood donors in Kharkiv. Issue #121

Photo: unsplash.com / Levi Meir Clancy
13 May 2024
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Propagandists are once again targeting Kharkiv’s medical system as an object of manipulation. Exploiting the city’s proximity to the active combat zone and the constant threat of shelling, they are spreading panic-inducing news. Previously, there were claims that hospitals in the city were “closing en masse,” and now it is the turn of the doctors — allegedly, medical specialists are leaving Kharkiv in large numbers. Additionally, rumors are circulating that there is a catastrophic shortage of donor blood in the city.

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.

Information is being spread online claiming that there is a massive outflow of medical specialists from Kharkiv, forcing residents to travel to Poltava for dental and eye treatments. Additionally, it is alleged that Kharkiv has run out of all supplies of donor blood due to the intense fighting in the Donetsk region.

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What’s the reality?

An anonymous message claiming that one Kharkiv resident traveled to Poltava for eye and dental treatment in no way confirms a “massive outflow” of specialists from Kharkiv. Such statements are aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian healthcare system.

Previously, we have already refuted the claim that hospitals in Kharkiv are “barely functioning.” Kharkiv indeed regularly suffers from Russian shelling, with damage and destruction affecting energy and medical infrastructure. However, this does not mean that the city is destroyed or non-functional. The city implements scheduled power outages to support Kharkiv’s energy system, but these do not affect critical infrastructure — these facilities are prioritized for electricity supply. Therefore, hospitals are operating normally.

Currently, the hospitals in Kharkiv are open, operating, and providing necessary assistance to local residents. This also applies to dental and ophthalmological clinics and offices.

Moreover, three institutions in Kharkiv have signed contracts with the National Health Service of Ukraine under the package “Dental prosthetics for certain categories of individuals who defended the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. “We have already contracted 45 institutions [across Ukraine — ed.], and in April-May, another 36 institutions will join. Over 200 combatants, military personnel, and veterans have already started receiving this service at healthcare institutions contracted with the National Health Service of Ukraine,” says Nataliia Husak, head of the National Health Service of Ukraine. Military personnel, veterans, and combatants can use the free dental prosthetics program once a year. The maximum cost of the provided medical services is up to 15,000 UAH.

Additionally, in 2024, the Medical Guarantee Program covers emergency dental care for all patients, and for children under 18, it also includes planned care. Under the “Dental care for adults and children” package, the following dental services can be obtained for free: treatment of acute conditions, instrumental examinations, surgical interventions, and preventive check-ups for schoolchildren and children under 6 years old. In Kharkiv, 17 medical institutions are contracted with the National Health Service of Ukraine in this area. Regarding ophthalmology services, they are included in the “Prevention, diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment in outpatient settings” service package.

The Public Health Center advises maintaining a dental hygiene regimen to prevent dental diseases, including brushing teeth regularly, rinsing the mouth after each meal, limiting the consumption of sugary drinks, quitting smoking, and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke, among other recommendations.

Source: Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine

Claims about the absence of donor blood in Kharkiv are exaggerated. The Kharkiv Regional Blood Service Center indeed regularly posts announcements about the need for specific blood types, and sometimes for all types. Similar announcements are also posted by other regional blood centers and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. However, this does not indicate a complete lack of supplies. Ukraine has established a systematic planned donation system that ensures stable reserves of blood and its components. The coordination of stock deliveries between regions is managed by the specialized state institution “Ukrainian Transplant Coordination Center”. Blood, including for the military, is continuously collected throughout Ukraine.

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.

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