EU health actions to support Ukrainian people



Health Refugee Ukraine Policy Paper

Renew Europe is asking for more EU actions to:

  1. Call on the EU to urge Russia to desist from attacking health facilities and allow access for evacuation of wounded and vulnerable civilians;
  2. Promote EU solidarity and guarantee access to universal health coverage to Ukrainian people arriving in the EU;
  3. Ask the Member States to ensure that lack of travel documents or medical documents such as certificates of mandatory vaccinations, or COVID-19 test results is not an obstacle to enter the EU. The Schengen rules should authorise non-EU nationals to enter a Member State’s territory on humanitarian grounds even if they do not fulfil all entry conditions;
  4. Call on Member States to properly implement the Temporary Protection Directive to ensure access to healthcare services for communicable and non-communicable diseases, chronic illnesses, rare diseases and long-term care and guarantee that the rights to healthcare will be ensured under the Reception Conditions Directive;
  5. Help the enormous and increasing number of Ukrainian people experiencing the physical and mental impacts of war, as well as those who are medically vulnerable, children, and those with disabilities;
  6. Call on the Commission to fund additional capacity building measures through European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations to increase mental health and psychosocial support services, including offering remote medical and emotional assistance;
  7. Call on the Commission to incite the Health Security Committee to share information on the availability of primary care, hospital and intensive care unit beds, surgical capacities, treatment of burns and other specific conditions;
  8. Set up sufficient triage hubs at the borders with Ukraine to make a first diagnosis and speed up medical transfers to the most suitable services;
  9. Coordinate the transfer of patients (especially vulnerable persons: women, some of them pregnant, children, older people, people with chronic or rare diseases, disabilities, and mental health issues) to all EU Member States; Ukraine’s EU neighbouring countries should not shoulder the entire effort of receiving the large numbers of people arriving from Ukraine;
  10. Ensure the access to cross-border remote consultations for patients living with rare diseases, in coordination with the European Reference Networks;
  11. Facilitate the medical evacuation of people needing specialised hospital treatment and care through EU solidarity mechanisms including European Union Civil Protection Mechanism;
  12. Pursue the MEDEVAC operations by transferring chronically ill paediatric patients from one EU Member State to another[1];
  13. Accelerate the transfer of food and medical countermeasures to Ukraine through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism and the Emergency Response Coordination Centre[2]; Ensure immediate and rapid access to medicines for individuals, in particular for patients with insulin dependence and those requiring dialysis, chemotherapy, anticoagulation, and other lifesaving treatments including against AIDS and infections, in coordination with patient organisations;
  14. Encourage the Member States to preserve the continuity of routine vaccination and screening services, address gaps in prior vaccination histories and guarantee access to vaccine against tuberculosis, polio, measles or other communicable infectious diseases with the support of HERA[3];
  15. Raise awareness on the need and availability of COVID-19 vaccines amongst the refugees and enhance cooperation with COVAX and neighbouring countries to donate COVID-19 vaccines to Ukrainian refugees[4];
  16. Disseminate trusted information in languages refugees understand in order to increase the vaccination uptake;
  17. Guarantee access to interpreters, translators, and cultural mediators to Ukrainian patients to allow them to communicate effectively with healthcare professionals and understand their rights regarding access to healthcare and long-term care services under the Temporary Protection Directive and the Reception Conditions Directive;
  18. Associate NGOs with specialised expertise to assist authorities that would need help, for example to understand the differences between treatments used in Ukraine and those authorised in the EU;
  19. Exchange information and data between Member States and the relevant EU agencies such as ECDC for the surveillance and the management of communicable diseases and EMA for the supply and the measures against shortages of medicinal products;
  20. Organise voluntary transfer of EU health professionals to Ukraine and neighbouring countries; Ensure that the work of all health professionals under the international principle of medical neutrality is respected; emphasises that all efforts must be made to ensure that patients have full access to healthcare;
  21. Facilitate the swift recognition of the qualifications of health workers from Ukraine, and allow those in training to have access to medical, nursing, and other health schools throughout Europe;
  22. Guarantee access to healthcare and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for women and give high priority for it in the EU’s and Member States’ humanitarian aid response, including access to health kits with emergency contraception, menstrual hygiene products, contraceptive medicines, products for pregnant and breastfeeding women, medicines for prenatal and postpartum care, and access to justice for sexual and reproductive rights violations and gender-based violence;
  23. Call on EU Member States to facilitate access to safe and legal abortion including cross-border access when there are national legal barriers in the transit or host countries;
  24. Increase support to local NGOs to provide mental health support to refugees and identify local partners for Mental Health and Sexual Gender-Based Violence support; Provide an information hub of resources and links in national languages, indicating and amplifying work being done for Ukrainian patients;
  25. Foster coordination of private donations of medical countermeasures and their shipment to Ukrainian people with the support of the Commission;
  26. Anticipate the war-linked threats that could be of chemical-, nuclear-, biological-, environmental-, or infectious origin, identify the medical countermeasures against those threats and ensure their availability;
  27. Ensure the interoperability of electronic medical records or any mean of transmission of medical information required to guarantee the continuity of healthcare in the full respect of the General Data Protection regulation (GDPR);
  28. Organise the surveillance of the needs in essential medicines and their availability in order to prevent the risk of acute shortages in relation to a sudden increase in demand in a welcoming country.

Annex I - list of non-perishable and easy-to-transport food requested by the Ukrainian vice Prime Minister;

  1. Cereals (wheat, corn, buckwheat, oats)
  2. Canned food (fish, meat)
  3. Sausage products longtime storage
  4. Hard cheese
  5. Nuts, dried fruits
  6. Rusks
  7. Biscuit packaged

Annex II - list of medicines food requested by the Ukrainian vice Prime Minister;

  1. Paracetamol
  2. Meloxicam
  3. Ciprofloxacin
  4. Individual sterile dressing package with elastic first aid compression component with protective moisture-resistant shell
  5. Sterile gause bandages
  6. Chemical remedy to stop bleeding
  7. Gel-based occlusive thoracic bandage
  8. Non-woven adhesive plaster
  9. Nitrile non-sterile medical examination gloves
  10. Thermo blanket on a polyethylene basis
  11. Mechanical remedy to stop bleeding
  12. Nasopharyngeal airway (airway, tube) with lubricant
  13. Scissors for cutting clothes and shoes
  14. First aid kits (military or NATO standard)
  15. External fixators for fracture treatment

[1] On March 13, the EU coordinated the first MEDEVAC operation by transferring chronically ill pediatric Ukrainian patients from Poland to Italy. The operation was financially and operationally supported by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and is part of the European solidarity mechanism for intra-EU medical transfers of refugees and displaced people. The operation was carried out by an Italian medical team at the request of and in close cooperation with Poland. The EU also continues to deliver emergency assistance to Poland via the Mechanism, with France, Germany, Denmark and Austria offering a significant amount of medicines, medical and shelter equipment as well as paediatric vaccines.

[2]Annex I gives a list of non-perishable and easy-to-transport food requested by the Ukrainian vice Prime Minister; Annex II gives a list of Medicines the Ukrainian Government indicated they urgently need.

[3] Measles, polio and tuberculosis vaccination rates in Ukraine are estimated to be below the recommended levels to stop outbreaks, which the World Health Organization (WHO) sets at around 95% to achieve population-wide protection. In 2020, 82% of Ukrainian children had been vaccinated against measles and about 93% of the population was immunised against tuberculosis. The latest figures on polio vaccinations show that 84% of children had been immunised, but the proportion dropped to 60% in some regions.

[4] Current COVID-19 vaccination rate in Ukraine is 34.6% for uptake with a complete primary series, only 1.7% uptake for booster dose. Ukraine has so far received 8 million doses via COVAX, however COVAX has temporarily halted vaccine shipments following communication with Ukrainian government. COVAX and partners are currently discussing with donor governments, international organisations and governments of neighbouring countries where a large number of refugee populations are fleeing, about ways Gavi and COVAX partners can best support and protect these populations against COVID-19.


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