Kremlin propagandists discredit the healthcare system in Ukraine and emphasize their “assistance” in providing “quality treatment” to civilians in the temporarily occupied territories. They produce videos about the “restoration” of medicine in the Zaporizhzhia region but hide the fact that aid is mostly provided to the occupiers, and there is a shortage of medical personnel in hospitals.
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.
Propagandist Telegram channels are once again spreading messages claiming that Russia provides the “best” treatment for residents of temporarily occupied territories. Allegedly, the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, is lying about the poor quality of healthcare in the occupied region. Meanwhile, Russia supposedly purchases new equipment for the hospital, and the medical facilities specialize in assisting local residents.
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What’s the reality?
Since the beginning of the large-scale Kremlin invasion, the disinformation campaign has spread not only in narratives about the so-called “Nazism” in Ukraine but also pertained to healthcare in Ukraine. Russian media produce videos about providing assistance to medical facilities in temporarily occupied territories and emphasize the “reconstruction” of hospitals. However, they actually do this to conceal their true crimes. In parallel with promotional videos about “improvements in healthcare” in the Zaporizhzhia region, Russia spreads fakes about the medical system in Ukraine.
Furthermore, Russia systematically destroys Ukrainian healthcare facilities with its shelling. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, the Russian military damaged 1439 medical institutions and completely destroyed 190. According to estimates from the Kyiv School of Economics, as of September 1, 2023, Russia has caused direct damages to Ukraine amounting to $151.2 billion. Of these, losses in the healthcare system amount to $2.9 billion. However, experts note that the total number of destroyed and damaged medical facilities is 1223 objects.
Source: Ministry of Health of Ukraine
Propagandists are attempting to discredit the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to conceal the real issues residents of occupied cities face. For instance, a Kremlin representative in the Zaporizhzhia region, Yevhenii Balytskyi, announced in early October 2023 that starting from 2024, medical treatment in the region could only be obtained with a Russian passport. This is how the Russians are forcibly passportizing Ukrainians and depriving them of the right to medical assistance.
Additionally, the Russians face a shortage of medical personnel in Zaporizhzhia, as even collaborators themselves admit. Balytskyi noted that in the temporarily occupied Zaporizhzhia region, there is a shortage of about 1700 medical professionals. Meanwhile, the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, states that, according to unofficial data, the Russians in the occupied territory lack at least 3,000 medical professionals. Therefore, the Russians are attempting to conduct mass registration, specifically among local healthcare workers.
Furthermore, Russia primarily provides medical treatment to its own military personnel, while the local population receives almost no assistance. For example, in the village of Rozivka in the Zaporizhzhia region, the Russians repurposed the district hospital to provide aid exclusively to their wounded soldiers. According to the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, about 90% of hospitals in the region offer medical assistance exclusively to occupiers.
The Russians on the occupied territories face problems not only with medical personnel but also with medications. In some populated areas, there is a severe shortage of medicines. There have been documented cases where the Russians did not provide insulin to diabetics who hold Ukrainian passports. The Russians talk about the “restoration” of healthcare, while in reality, they are destroying Ukrainian cities and killing the civilian population.
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