On May 10, WHO/Europe convened a special session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, focusing on the impact of the ongoing war on health in Ukraine. The special session was requested on April 28 by WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge with a letter signed by 43 WHO Member States.
During the session, the Regional Committee discussed a draft resolution proposed by 38 WHO Member States titled “Health emergency in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, stemming from the Russian Federation’s aggression”.
As stated by the Regional Director for Europe during his opening remarks, 40% of Ukrainian households have at least one member in need of chronic treatment that they can no longer find. This situation will lead to treatment gaps for chronic conditions such as diabetes, which will result in estimates of at least 3,000 premature deaths and therefore calls for an urgent and immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
In this context, the key points of the draft resolution are:
- Condemning Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, including healthcare facilities;
- Demanding that the Russian Federation ensure respect for international humanitarian law;
- Inviting WHO Member States to support the Government of Ukraine in protecting and promoting the health rights of the population of Ukraine;
- Requesting the WHO Regional Director for Europe to safeguard the technical cooperation and assistance provided by the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, including its possible relocation outside of the Russian Federation;
- Calling upon the Regional Director to consider temporarily suspending all regional meetings in the Russian Federation;
- Inviting the Regional Director to bring the resolution to the attention of the World Health Assembly, together with an assessment of the health emergency situation in Ukraine;
- Inviting the Director-General to coordinate with relevant partners as appropriate.
Following the Regional Committee debate and the voting procedure, the draft resolution was adopted with 43 Member States in favour, three against, two abstaining, and two absent.