Ukraine flag

Photo by Yehor Milohrodskyi on Unsplash

The World Health Organization today said that it is sending more than 36 metric tons of medical supplies to support the humanitarian emergency in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion last week.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organization is sending “essential medical supplies” to Ukraine — including its first shipment of 36 metric tons of supplies for trauma care and emergency surgery and other health supplies — to meet the needs of more than 150,000 patients.

“Prior to the conflict, WHO distributed emergency supplies to 23 hospitals, although our prepositioned supplies in Kyiv are currently inaccessible,” Ghebreyesus said in a press briefing. “There is an urgent need to establish a corridor to ensure humanitarian workers and supplies have safe and continuous access to reach people in need.”

WHO has released $5.2 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies and said it will need to raise $45 million for Ukraine and $12.5 million to support neighboring countries providing refugee care.

Ghebreyesus also said that WHO is “deeply concerned” amid reports of hospitals and healthcare workers attacked in Ukraine. AP reports that some maternity hospitals are being moved into bomb shelters.

“The sanctity and neutrality of health care — including of health workers, patients, supplies, transport and facilities — and the right to safe access to care, must be respected and protected.”

How medtech is supporting Ukraine

Medical device companies have started making contributions to help relieve the humanitarian emergency.

Melville, N.Y–based dental supplier Henry Schein is opening a 2022 Disaster Relief Fund through its Henry School Cares Foundation. CEO Stanley Bergman said in a LinkedIn post that the company is supporting the fund with an initial $50,000 donation and will match employee contributions up to $25,000. Henry Schein intends to provide $250,000 worth of product to humanitarian aid organizations.

“We are committed to helping those innocent civilian families in the middle of armed conflict by supporting medical teams providing care to alleviate the suffering of those in, and fleeing from, Ukraine,” Bergman said. “Henry Schein, of course, will support the Ukrainian people and the refugees from this war with donations of product and other resources, working with our long-standing philanthropic humanitarian aid partners to move goods safely into the region.”

Siemens Healthineers is donating €1 million for immediate relief and to support Ukrainian families who are seeking refuge, according to CEO Bernd Montag. The Erlangen, Germany-based diagnostics and imaging company will also match all employee contributions.

“At the same time, to answer to the request from our team members who are demonstrating enormous compassion and willingness to participate even more, we are offering them now the possibility to make their own contribution — every euro donated will be matched by Siemens Healthineers,” Montag said in a LinkedIn post.

Billerica, Massachusetts–based Conformis announced today that it is suspending all distribution operations and business development involving Russia or any Russian-based entities for its orthopedic medical devices. In a press release, the company said it will also no longer pursue future business development opportunities in Russia.

“The orthopedic industry strives to make life better for patients and their families. We feel empathy for the Russian people and potential patients of Conformis, who may have benefited from our products. However, given the unnecessary and unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine instigated by the Russian leadership, we can no longer in good conscience, sell our products or services in the Russian market. We urge other global companies to respond in similar fashion. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Ukraine and the relatives of Conformis employees who live there,” CEO and President Mark Augusti said.

Roche said it “vehemently condemns the violent invasion” of Ukraine, according to a news release. Its primary focus is supporting its employees and their families in Ukraine while also ensuring that critical medicines and diagnostics are available. Roche is donating 150,000 packages of Rocephin, an antibiotic medication listed on WHO’s essential medicines list.

“We are making every effort to ensure continued supply to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus within the scope of the available possibilities. This includes working through local distributors, using remote support systems for laboratories and working with partners in neighboring countries to set up blood donation programs. We are also actively working on solutions to ensure continued access to treatment for Ukrainian patients in ongoing clinical trials, including for those who have left Ukraine and moved to other countries,” the company said in a news release.

N-95 and surgical mask maker Medicom is supporting humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and will be sending over $250,000 worth of medical products from North America and Europe, according to the company. The Montreal-based company is also launching a fundraiser among its employees and will match every dollar donated. All proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders and used to improve access to healthcare and medication in the region.

“For the past few days, our thoughts have been with our colleagues in Kyiv and with the Ukrainian people. In keeping with our mission to protect, we decided to help the caregivers involved in the humanitarian efforts and their patients,” chief operating officer Guillaume Laverdure said in a news release.