© Misha Friedman


The conflict in east Ukraine has left a devastating psychological toll on ordinary people

We supported hospitals on both sides of the frontline during the 2014-16 conflict. 

Europe's second largest country, Ukraine – home to 44 million people – is a land of wide, fertile agricultural plains, with large pockets of heavy industry in the east.

Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has since veered between seeking closer integration with Western Europe and being drawn into the orbit of Russia.

In late 2013, political protests erupted as the Ukrainian government backed away from an association agreement with the EU. Violent clashes between police and protesters took place.

In February 2014, Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power and violent chaos ensued. By May, tensions between western-leaning Kiev and Russian-backed separatists plunged the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk into war.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first began working in the country in 1999. We are still responding to the ‘frozen war’ by treating the psychological effects. We are also providing care for tuberculosis (TB) patients in eastern Ukraine’s penitentiary system.

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MSF’s work in Ukraine: 2018

Access to healthcare remains limited for people living along the frontline of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which started back in 2014, damaging infrastructure, disrupting services and causing financial distress. 

Médecins Sans Frontières operated mobile clinics in a total of 28 locations in or near the conflict zone, delivering much-needed primary healthcare and psychological support to nearly 3,000 people. 

The majority of the people treated by our mobile clinics were women over the age of 50 with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. In addition to individual counselling, our teams organised training to help healthcare workers and service providers in the area cope with stress and burnout. 

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Hepatitis C 

We continued to run our hepatitis C project in Mykolaiv region, providing treatment with two direct-acting antivirals – daclatasvir and sofosbuvir – as well as free diagnostic tests, patient support, education and counselling services. Our hepatitis C patients are all co-infected with HIV and/or on opioid substitution therapy to overcome drug addiction. The first group, who began treatment in 2017, were found to have an impressive cure rate of over 95 per cent. 

Drug-resistant tuberculosis

In partnership with the Ministry of Health, we launched a drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) treatment project at the regional TB hospital in Zhytomyr in 2018. It is one of the first projects in the country to treat patients with the highly effective oral TB drugs bedaquiline and delamanid, and we continue to advocate increased access to these drugs countrywide. The project also provides outpatient care, as well as mental healthcare and social support services, which are often unavailable to TB patients in Ukraine.

find out more in our international activity report

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