Fears of medical shortages and disease in Ukraine after Russian invasion

CONCERN FOR HIV PATIENTS

The UN agency for HIV/AIDS has said there is less than a month’s worth of drugs for HIV patients left in Ukraine.

“People living with HIV in Ukraine only have a few weeks of antiretroviral therapy remaining with them, and without continuous access, their lives are at risk,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.

Before Russia’s invasion began last week, Ukraine had 250,000 people living with HIV, the second-largest number in Europe after Russia.

It also had high rates of tuberculosis, including one of the highest rates of multi-drug resistant TB in the world. There are an estimated 30,000 new TB cases annually in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s government and the Stop TB Partnership, an international initiative, said on Monday all TB clinics in the country were still open, but patients had been given a month-long supply of drugs to take away with them in case the situation worsened or it was dangerous to travel to a clinic.

Enough treatments are available for existing and projected new patients until the end of 2022, Stop TB said, although the organisation is working with the WHO on potential emergency orders for neighbouring countries.

Interruptions in treatment or diagnosis can drive up the wider transmission as well as risk patients’ lives, experts say.

“It’s clear we expect many more TB cases,” said Viorel Soltan, a Stop TB Partnership representative, predicting an impact on the wider health system in Ukraine.

COVID-19 is also still a concern, with only just over one in three people fully vaccinated against the virus disease. Daily new cases hit a peak of around 40,000 in February but were declining before reporting stopped after Russia’s invasion.

Humanitarian relief organisation Project HOPE said on Monday pharmacies in all cities under attack were reporting running out of medical supplies.

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