Over the past nine months, some of the most intense fighting in the Russia-Ukraine war has been endured by Eastern Ukraine. This has disrupted basic access to everything from internet and electricity to water and medical care. Even now, in areas where conflict has recently subsided and where the population is gradually returning, there remains a significant decrease in healthcare providers, compared to pre-war levels. In one such area there are two permanent civilian healthcare providers for an estimated 10,000 habitants.
To help support both immediate and chronic healthcare needs in some of these areas, disaster relief and humanitarian aid nonprofit Team Rubicon returned to Ukraine with a team of doctors, nurses, and paramedics on November 29.
It’s the third time that volunteers—known as Greyshirts—have responded to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine this year. In March, Greyshirt medical care volunteers provided pediatric health, maternal and reproductive health, mental health, and emergency care to internally displaced persons in western Ukraine.
Then, to help expand specialized medical capacity within the Ukrainian healthcare system as it relates to conflict and emergency medicine, Greyshirts returned to the country early this fall and trained Ukrainian healthcare professionals and civilians in whole-blood transfusions, point of care ultrasounds, and other technology and techniques. The goal was not only to train providers in the new technology but also to empower citizens to provide medical care on the ground in crisis scenarios—and ultimately to help reduce potentially preventable morbidity and mortality, alleviate suffering, and to maintain human dignity during a time of war. Over the course of two months, Greyshirts trained more than 1,500 Ukrainians in POCUS, whole blood transfusion, stop-the-bleed, pre-hospital triage, attending to blast injuries, and treatment of chemical exposure.
Over the course of this month, Greyshirts expect to serve hundreds living in hard hit areas near ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine, treating for everything from trauma care to chronic disease management and working on issues from pediatrics to geriatrics.