Emergency relief for Ukraine

Last update: 12/04/2023

The International Diabetes Federation expresses its unanimous outrage at the ongoing situation in Ukraine and unreservedly condemns the act of aggression visited on the people of Ukraine by Russian forces. We are extremely concerned for people living with diabetes in Ukraine or displaced as a consequence of the unprovoked war.

The bombing of Ukraine, including the attacks on civilians and the bombing of hospitals has severely disrupted care for people with chronic diseases, including the more than 2.3 million people estimated to have been living with diabetes in the country before the invasion.

With widespread damage to infrastructure, people face drug shortages or difficulties in reaching distribution points. Damage to medical facilities will severely hinder the possibility of delivering care. Colleagues in Ukraine working to care for people with diabetes have given us disturbing accounts of the current situation. Ukrainian nationals living with diabetes are defending their country, both in the ranks of territorial defense and on the front lines. They are supplying first aid kits to the front lines, snacks to bomb shelters and new equipment to paediatric endocrinology departments. The Ukrainian Diabetic Federation, an IDF member, has greatly intensified its operations across the country and new regional diabetes organisations are being created.

"On February 24, at the beginning of the war, we experienced grief, tears, the deaths of our children, our elders, our women and our brave soldiers who have stood up to defend their country. In this difficult stage of our lives and the life of our beloved Ukraine, we matured, became wiser, stronger and more attentive to each other. People with diabetes were left alone with their huge burden until they united and helped each other. It was difficult to get access to insulin, test strips for a glucometer, but doctors and volunteers were able to finally regulate the supply for those in need. We are the power! Glory to Ukraine!" Alexander Galaev, director of the Odessa branch of UDF, UDF volunteer since 10 years.

In the aftermath of this war, the medical care structure will need to be rebuilt. Those forced to flee for their lives will need ongoing support in the countries where they seek refuge. We call on healthcare systems to act fast to make sure that refugees with diabetes receive the care they need and to help individuals to normalise their blood glucose to protect against the life-threatening and debilitating complications of diabetes.

“Thanks to the support of the international community, shortages of diabetes medicines and supplies are no longer the major issue. But this is not the case everywhere in Ukraine. People living with diabetes in small villages and remote areas, often cannot access medicines and supplies as many pharmacies have closed or are not part of the government reimbursement system. There is also a shortage of healthcare professionals, and in particular endocrinologists, many of whom have left the country or remote areas. The situation is even more critical in the reclaimed territories, where most healthcare infrastructures have been destroyed. Meanwhile, it is impossible to reach the areas under Russian occupation. Another crucial challenge for people living with diabetes is the lack of prevention and screening programmes for diabetes-related complications, which is expected to lead to severe problems over the longer term. These require equipped medical facilities and expertise that are currently lacking across the country, especially outside the bigger cities." Dr Iryna Vlasenko, IDF Vice-President 

Since the start of the crisis, IDF Transnational Member Direct Relief has mobilised its resources to support medical needs in the country as they become known. 

In the three months following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on February 24, 2022, Direct Relief emerged as one of the largest charitable providers of medical aid to the country, delivering more than 650 tons of medicines and supplies and providing over $14.7 million in direct financial assistance to other organizations in the region. The cash assistance has included direct payments for refugees to cover prescription medication costs, as well as operating funds for health facilities providing care in Ukraine. Aid provided includes 61,148 insulin vials and pens and 78,976 bottles of other diabetes medicines.

Direct relief Ukraine landscape

© Direct Relief

IDF continues to monitor the crisis and collaborate with Direct Relief to fulfill medical needs as it unfolds. If you would like to support the efforts of Direct Relief, financial donations can be made here. (Click on “Direct my donation to” and select “Ukraine crisis”).

The IDF Europe Region has called on all its members to join the Connect Solidarity network to support Ukrainian refugees living with diabetes across Europe. The network provides resources for online medical and psychological support as well as information to help Ukrainians living with diabetes understand what support they can get in the country where they are displaced. It also highlights the fundraising initiatives endorsed by IDF Europe to support the delivery of medical supplies to people with diabetes in Ukraine, as well as fundraising efforts to support the work of IDF member associations offering assistance to Ukrainian refugees living with diabetes. For more information, visit https://www.connectsolidarity.eu/

IDF expresses its gratitude to the agencies that have acted fast to deliver medical supplies and aid to support Ukrainian citizens, including IDF partners and members who responded quickly to provide relief.

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