UAMS - Ukraine Medical Support
Interview with Slava Lukan
The year that Ukraine Medical Support (UAMS) was created is the year when the current conflict finds its roots: 2014. Firstly as an informal organization through which Slava and his wife, with a medical background, provided help to people affected by the conflict from Toronto, Canada. When the conflict got worse in 2022, UAMS took the shape of what it is today: a non-profit organization that sends weekly help to Ukraine and that provides medical and psychological help to refugees, single mothers, kids, and the elderly.
Since the conflict got to a major scale, organizing their work got more complex. UAMS had to start new channels of help from scratch: they had to find warehouses, transportation companies, volunteers, contact people in need… After a period of adaptation, they have currently two warehouses: one in Mississauga (Canada) and one in Lutsk (Ukraine). Their main headquarters are located in Toronto. Donations are shipped from Mississauga to Lutsk and are distributed all over Ukraine afterward. Given the dire need for supplies, everything gets quickly distributed the same day or during the following days.
The most needed items are: drugs, hygiene items, and food. Supplies for these needs are few and far between in Ukraine. For food supplies, UAMS is developing a project where mainly refugees in Ukraine build boxes containing 24 food items (such as oil, sugar, or tomato sauce). These boxes are later distributed to people that need them and people that built them get a salary in exchange. Therefore, Ukrainians can receive products that are scarce in the country and UAMS supports the economy by giving people the chance of earning a salary. UAMS is also asking for clothes donations: winter and kids clothes (0-7 years old) especially.
UAMS receives requests for help every day. Since UAMS has been functioning for more than 7 years, they have built a network of 20-30 non-profit organizations that work with them in Ukraine. Once supplies are in the warehouse in Lutsk, UAMS workers check the list of needs sent by these organizations and organize the shipments to each region according to their demands.
There is no story that isn’t touching. UAMS tries to supply all the needs to make the life of refugees and internally displaced people better. Such was the case of a disabled kid that had to leave Kiev with his grandmother to a school not customized to his needs. UAMS tries to send mobility devices or other needed items according to the needs of people. If you want to hear and read more about stories of people affected by the war, UAMS share personal stories on their Facebook site.
We encourage you to continue donating. The current escalation of the war broke out in February, but we should not forget the humanitarian catastrophe taking place in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion since then. The war is not over and the needs are still huge. People still need your help.
UAMS is one of the main partners of AI Helps Ukraine. It is our partner in Canada and we will be sharing logistical tools to make sure that help sent gets to the right people in Ukraine.
- Website UAMS: www.uams.ca
NCI - National Cancer Institute Ukraine
Interview with Andriy Beznosenko
National Cancer Institute (NCI) is Ukraine’s leading cancer hospital. It was founded one century ago, in 1920 and it acts as the connecting link between the oncological centers of each region. It has 600 beds for patients, 25.000 patients per year that receive stationary treatment, and more than 100.000 in ambulatory care.
Its activity goes beyond traditional hospital functions: it treats and prevents cancer as well as boosts cancer scientific research and education. In current times, it had to broaden its functions and learn to act as a military hospital as well. NCI receives military personnel suffering from serious injuries after they got first medical treatment at the frontline.
As another consequence of the onset of the war, NCI has started to develop another extra function: the compilation of lessons learned on how to give cancer treatment during wartime. This opens the door to the possibility of sharing useful information with the international medical community and other countries going through similar situations.
The worsening of the war in February had a great impact on the lives of all Ukrainians and the NCI. The effects are seen in the short and long term. On the same day that Russia decided to invade Ukraine, there were 40 children at NCI, most of them recently operated. 3 of them have had a marrow operation. NCI workers carried them to the basement, which served as a shelling shelter, and continued to offer them treatment. During the first 3-4 days, NCI was, fortunately, able to fully evacuate all children to Europe and the United States.
“When it happens, when there is a siren and when you realize that the frontline is 10 km away from us, having several patients at the hospital, you try to fill time with work, thus avoiding to think of what is happening” explains Andriy Beznosenko, the institute’s lead doctor and a colorectal cancer specialist.
During the 2 months that NCI workers had to live in the institute, they witnessed many touching stories, such as patients receiving treatments and transplantations that were in the process and that needed to be continued. Some staff members had to donate blood which was needed for the operations. A resident doctor in her third year of studies had to make a marrow transplantation to a kid on the second day of the war. She donated blood, transferred it to the kid, and injected herself with calcium carbonate, so as to exhale and continue working.
Since the beginning, NCI has been greatly supported by Ukrainian, European, and North American volunteers. They received more than one truck full of drugs and waste materials. NCI also had conversations with the so-called “Big Pharma” companies, such as Pfizer, Roche, Merck, Takeda… These donated medicines were in warehouses in Ukraine, which NCI received on the spot.
NCI has currently more patients than at the beginning of the war because the oncological centers of Kherson, Melitopol, Krematorsk, Luhansk, and Mariupol are under the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territories. Others such as Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Mykolaiv’s centers, have been greatly damaged. Thus, people from the regions close to the front, such as Dnipro, Poltava, or Mykolaiv, tend to flee those zones towards safer ones and NCI has now much more patients than before the war or during the COVID pandemic. As a result, NCI tries to reduce waiting lists by making longer shifts.
State’s general budgets have been greatly reduced for 2023, except for the military. The reduction in medical expenses will be around 20%. Despite oncology was never covered by 100%, its reduction by 1/5 for 2023 will have a huge impact on NCI. This seems to be one of the main challenges for oncology treatment regarding long-term effects of the war. Since the onset of the war, some products are even already bought by doctors and other hospital staff due to a lack of money, such as toilet paper or other housekeeping supplies. NCI needs medicines and other health materials, even the most basic supplies, such as gloves, chairs, stools, surgical costumes…
NCI will be one of our main partners in Ukraine. We will send the institute supplies according to their needs. Unfortunately, cancer drugs are usually very expensive. The more money we raise, the more drugs we will be able to send to Ukraine and, thus, help NCI to overcome this drastic budget reduction.
- Website NCI: www.unci.org.ua