The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) is deeply saddened by the unfolding crisis and stands in full solidarity with the people of Ukraine and the wider region affected by the conflict.
War is the ultimate enemy of people’s health, where in addition to the obvious – the loss of lives, injuries and destruction – the entire public health is at stake. Today, Ukraine deals with securing the safe water and food supplies, while facing an outbreak of infectious diseases in overcrowded refugee shelters amidst fighting the covid pandemic and polio outbreak, all the while trying to absorb an (internal) displacement of millions of people. With every passing day, civilian suffering is increasing, ever more lives are claimed, and people’s futures are getting scarred.
As a European member-led organisation made up of public health NGOs, patient groups, health professionals and disease groups, EPHA stands by its members and partners and calls for an immediate cessation of violence. As the humanitarian and health crises are growing in Ukraine and spilling over to the region including Russia, we are deeply concerned about its devastating impact on people’s physical and mental health and overall wellbeing. We are particularly worried about the accompanying rising health inequalities, impacting disadvantaged and vulnerable people, including from ethnic minorities, low socio-economic groups, and the homeless, who have little to no resources and who will be impacted most.
EPHA commends the solidarity and resolve shown so far by European leaders. We call on the international community, and in particular the EU and its member states’ authorities to further mobilise resources and undertake all necessary measures to provide for the essential needs of people in Ukraine, to guarantee the use of humanitarian corridors to allow the transit of medical supplies and workers to the affected zones, to guarantee the human rights of all refugees, regardless of their ethnic background.
Moreover, the potential implications of the crisis to food and nutrition security, but also to energy security, need to be carefully assessed and counteracted, consistent with a move to sustainable, resilient food and energy systems. This refers to Ukraine, but also to a wider European region and the globe.
- EPHA commits to working with its members and partners to better understand the needs and challenges for people on the ground and to offer support and practical coordination wherever possible. Specifically, we are already reaching out to our member organisations in border states to assess needs and potential support.
- EPHA commits to supporting the European Commission, WHO Europe, and relevant international and humanitarian organisations in addressing the challenges on the ground through our network of members and partners. Concretely, we are in discussions with WHO Europe colleagues to assess how the WHO Europe CSO network could be best utilised to provide support to Ukraine and bordering states. In parallel, we are aligning with DG SANTE on understanding current capacities and emerging needs, and mobilising support by civil society and health professionals.
- While EPHA’s members are already carrying out support activities and have provided recommendations within their own areas of work, EPHA welcomes information from other organisations and individuals working on the ground on help that is most needed, and pledges to try its utmost best to offer support.