On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a major invasion of Ukraine, marking the beginning of a major humanitarian crisis. Ukraine was faced with an unprecedented humanitarian emergency. Millions of people have been displaced and have lost access to basic services, with a particular focus on the disruption of health services. While Ukraine’s healthcare system has shown remarkable resilience, the persistent conflict and ongoing traumatic events pose a growing risk to the mental and psychosocial well-being of its population. The health care system is facing severe staff and supply shortages, leading to disruptions in routine vaccinations and increasing the vulnerability of people with chronic diseases.
Initially, Médecins du Monde focused its operations on the border region of Romania from April 2022 to December 2022 and then expanded to Ukraine. These operations, funded by Americares, aimed to strengthen access to comprehensive health, psychosocial support and protection services for affected populations, particularly those residing in rural areas. At the same time, the project sought to strengthen the resilience of local communities, national infrastructure and municipal services through strategic partnerships with local actors, key populations and national and international organizations.
The project used a multi-faceted approach at three distinct levels of intervention:
- Supporting people: addressing the immediate needs of people affected by the conflict and those at risk, with an emphasis on holistic health care and psychosocial support based on gender, age and disability.
- Strengthening community networks: promoting collective resilience by strengthening community-based support networks through collaborative efforts.
- Strengthening community resilience: Through awareness raising, capacity building and technical support to local health and welfare systems to leave a lasting impact on community coping mechanisms.
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROJECT TAKES PLACE IN FIVE DISTINCT PHASES:
Starting in March 2022, this phase was dedicated to providing immediate relief to those displaced by the conflict in the border region of Romania, ensuring the provision of basic assistance and services, as well as laying the foundation for subsequent operations.
During this phase, MdM-Greece deployed a Mobile Medical Unit (MMU), based mainly at the Siret border post. The MMU operated in the Suceava region of Romania and conducted cross-border operations in the Chernivtsi region of Ukraine. It provided comprehensive primary health care, emergency assistance and MHPSS support in remote and degraded areas. This approach offloaded secondary health structures from MHPSS cases, allowing more time and space for local hospitals to focus on the most serious cases.
The cooperation continued to address urgent healthcare needs in Ukraine, in particular in Chernivtsi and Ivano-Frankivsk. Moreover, MdM-Greece focused on providing access to a comprehensive package of health services (including SRH and childcare) and material support. Also, MdM-Greece deployed two Mobile Medical Units and replenished medical stocks to address the impact of the conflict on health care services. A case management approach was introduced, tailored to the complex needs of vulnerable groups and internally displaced persons (IDPs) where possible.
Building on previous operations, this phase simultaneously maintained existing services and launched an exit strategy to ensure sustainability of outcomes. MdM-Greece provided additional support to health care facilities in Kuty, Sokyryany region and Chernivtsi. Local health and welfare systems were strengthened using the localization model and steps were taken to deliver project deliverables and products to local relevant stakeholders after project completion.
At this stage, the main objective of the projec taligns with Ukraine’s recovery plan. It seeks to strengthen the resilience of the Ukrainian population, facilitating the rebuilding of a healthy, sustainable and inclusive future. The resources mobilised by this project aim to complement existing ones, address the current emergency and better prepare for the recovery phase. MdM-Greece, in collaboration with Americares and other partners, focuses on increasing access to a comprehensive package of primary health care services and strengthening the local health care system. In this phase, a Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) is being maintained and MHPSS services are being offered, along with ongoing training for health and non-health professionals in Sumy District.
Finally, throughout their course, MdM-Greece activities in Ukraine have been characterised by adaptability and a commitment to respond to the ever-changing demands of the ongoing crisis and recovery efforts. Continuous monitoring allowed the project to make real-time adjustments, ensuring more effective support to the affected population and health care systems. These efforts contributed to strengthening Ukraine’s health and mental health systems in both the short and long term.