Public Health Fakes: The American TV channel confirmed the existence of biolaboratories in Ukraine. Issue #14

Public Health Fakes: The American TV channel confirmed the existence of biolaboratories in Ukraine. Issue #14

Photo: ua.depositphotos.com / dusanpetkovic
3 March 2023
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In this issue, we refute the disinformation that the Ukrainian government does not allocate funds for the rehabilitation of military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, the Russians, referring to the American conspiracy media, are unsuccessfully trying to find evidence of the existence of biolaboratories in 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: The American TV channel confirmed the existence of biolaboratories in Ukraine

Russian media are again trying to find biolaboratories in Ukraine. This time, they refer to the story of the American TV channel OAN, in which it is said that Ukraine, together with the United States, is allegedly conducting dangerous experiments in Ukrainian biolaboratories. The article adds that the US Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, admitted that there are biolaboratories in Ukraine.

What’s the reality?

In the story of the TV channel One America News, the presenter really talks about “American biolaboratories in Ukraine.” He also spreads other fakes, such as about “external management of Ukraine in the interests of the West”, and discredits the Ukrainian president. The Media Bias/Fact Check resource, which aggregates the assessments of independent fact-checkers of the IFCN network, writes that One America News is an unreliable media that regularly spreads propaganda, conspiracy theories, and other unverified news. Russia often refers to such Western media to legitimize its own disinformation directed against Ukraine.

In fact, there are no American laboratories in Ukraine that would conduct dangerous experiments. Since 2005, Ukraine has cooperated with the United States under the Biological Threat Reduction Program — as part of it, Ukrainian laboratories are modernized, research is conducted, and the protection of biological materials is monitored to reduce the risk of theft or use of dangerous pathogens in Ukraine. That is, the USA is working together with Ukraine to make the laboratories, on the contrary, more efficient and safer.

For example, in 2019, the United States handed over four mobile laboratories to Ukraine to help military personnel and civilians during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same year, the US helped build two laboratories for the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection.

The United States and the United Nations have repeatedly emphasized that Ukraine does not have a biological weapons development program. Russia uses such reports to once again justify its crimes.

The information that Victoria Nuland admitted the existence of biolaboratories is fake; her words were taken out of context. During the Senate hearing, Nuland was asked whether Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons. She replied that there are research facilities in Ukraine whose biological materials can be received by Russians. In addition, Nuland noted that if an incident involving dangerous biological or chemical materials were to occur in Ukraine, Russia would be to blame for it. According to her, this is a classic Russian scheme — to blame Ukraine for what the Russian Federation is doing itself.

The Russian publication also writes that the Pharmbiotest biolaboratory in Rubizhne tested dangerous drugs on military personnel and civilians. In fact, Pharmbiotest clinic conducted clinical trials of conventional medicines. On the website of the State Expert Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, you can see that “Pharmbiotest” conducted studies on the bioequivalence of drugs such as “Adesin”, “Tenzocard”, “Klovask”, etc.

A bioequivalence study is a comparison of the bioavailability of two drugs to determine whether similar drugs can be used. Tablets “Adesin” and “Tenzocard“, tested in “Pharmbiotest”, are intended for people with high blood pressure. “Klovask” capsules are prescribed to people as therapy after myocardial infarction. Moreover, the company “Microchim”, the manufacturer of the drugs “Klovask” and “Tenzokard”, which were tested in “Pharmbiotest”, previously denied the fake about the biolaboratory in Rubizhne.

Disinformation: The government does not allocate funds for the treatment of PTSD in military personnel

Information is being spread online, citing an article in The Economist magazine, that allegedly, the Ukrainian government does not allocate funds for the rehabilitation of soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Authors of publications on social networks indicate that the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder costs $150 per week, but Volodymyr Zelenskyi, allegedly decided instead of spending money to send thousands of soldiers to the hottest spots on the front.

What’s the reality?

In The Economist article, journalists talk about a military rehabilitation center for the treatment of PTSD, located in the Kharkiv region. About 100 servicemen arrive for treatment every week. “But under Ukraine’s current rules, though the military budget covers rehabilitation for physical injuries, it does not pay for treatment for ptsd. So the costs for the centre are being borne by volunteer organisations,” says The Economist article.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic mental disorder that can develop after a traumatic event. Persistent thoughts about the traumatic event last for more than a month and usually occur within six months after the event. Thoughts appear involuntarily when some trigger reminds them of the trauma. Treatment for PTSD includes psychotherapy and/or medication.

Sources: Ministry of Health of Ukraine, Public Health Center of Ukraine

However, in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Social and Legal Protection of Servicemen and Members of Their Families”, the state provides free psychological assistance to:

  • military servicemen who perform military service on the territory of Ukraine and perform military duty outside its borders,
  • military personnel who became disabled as a result of an illness related to service,
  • members of voluntary formations of territorial communities.

During military service, psychological assistance is free for military personnel because funds for medical and psychological rehabilitation are allocated from the state budget, and the responsibility for providing psychological assistance relies on the psychological and medical services of the security and defense sector. The director of the center, Colonel Oleksandr Vasylkivskyi, commented to The Economist that since 2014, the number of psychologists in the army has increased by approximately 40%.

The right to free psychological assistance is also available to persons who are discharged or released from military service among war veterans, persons who have made special merits to the Motherland, family members of such persons, and family members of deceased veterans. For this, a person must receive a referral from a doctor or contact a specialist in psychological health independently.

In the state budget for 2023, UAH 540 million was allocated for the implementation of programs of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs on psychological rehabilitation, professional adaptation, and sanatorium-resort treatment of military personnel. This amount is twice as much as in the previous year.

Also, in August 2022, the Register of providers of psychological rehabilitation services for veterans and their families began to operate. Thus, specialists in the field of psychological health who want to engage in military rehabilitation can submit applications in the electronic form to the Register. As of December 15, 2022 (the latest available information at the time of publication), 45 healthcare institutions are included in the register.

In addition, a National program of mental health and psychosocial support is being formed in Ukraine, which includes, in particular, the training of psychologists, social workers, and educators in rapid methods of psychological support. The Ministry of Health of Ukraine pays special attention to the training of family doctors so that specialists can carry out early diagnosis and provide the necessary assistance. The main target groups are people with PTSD, families of military personnel, and affected civilians.

Moreover, as the Deputy Minister of Veteran Affairs of Ukraine, Inna Drahanchuk, noted, the department has started work on the implementation of the “Transition“(“Perekhid”) project. It provides for the creation of a system for transitioning a veteran from military service to civilian life. According to Drahanchuk’s forecasts, the program’s launch should occur before the first demobilization.

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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