On Thursday, the World Health Organization voted in support of a resolution condemning Russian threats on Ukraine’s health service before dismissing a simultaneous offer by Moscow, which Kyiv’s spokesperson to the United Nations in Geneva had described as a “subterfuge” that displayed a “twisted alternative reality” of the dispute.
Deteriorating Supplies In Ukraine
The health care system in Ukraine is under severe strain as humanitarian organizations hurry to provide critical medical supplies to the country.
Up to 100 metric tonnes of supplies, including transfusion kits, insulin, and anesthetics, have been sent by the WHO. However, additional supplies are still desperately needed.
According to Anil Soni, CEO of the WHO Foundation, which is gathering funds for the global health organization’s Ukrainian health emergency campaign, these needs range from trauma kits to electricity to umbilical cord closures.
Torbay’s first demands for additional resources were primarily for trauma items. But today, essential goods like syringes, needles, and medicines are included in the requests.
In the meantime in order to reach 6 million people with basic health care over the next three months, WHO filed an appeal for approximately $57 million due to funding limitations. Soni told The Health 202 that only $8 million had been collected so far.
If assaults on clinics and hospitals escalate, the successful motion, which has been endorsed by member countries 88 to 12 with 53 abstentions, raises the possibility of Russia being banned from the assembly. The World Health Organization’s assembly is the decision-making body for the organization, which is a United Nations global health institution with a broad mandate.
On Thursday, a counterplan proposed by Russia and Syria, implying that Kyiv is to account for several innocent causalities, was also denied, 15 to 66 with 70 abstentions. Ukraine’s ambassadors have charged Russia of plagiarising words condemning an “ongoing medical disaster mostly around Ukraine” while removing any terminology implicating Russia.
Addressing the meeting, Russian diplomats charged Ukraine with attempting to settle disputes through a typically politically neutral venue. The Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, told the conference that using the WHO to “stigmatize one country” was inappropriate.
The conference, Kyiv and its supporters said, should be used to debate the conflict in the region’s health-care implications, citing allegations of Russian attacks on medical institutions as well as the global risk of hunger as a result of the reportedly intentional blockage of Ukrainian ports.
“Vast sums of money are spent on weaponry,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday. “We request that donors assist in ensuring that civilians and refugees in Ukraine get the medical support they require.”
World Health Organization Condemns Russia’s Actions In Ukraine
“War is a health issue,” said Simon Manley, the British ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. “Health for the sake of harmony.” Peace is good for your health. The World Health Assembly should not be reluctant to discuss health concerns, such as the cause and perpetrator in this situation.”
After Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, the clashing votes at the annual session in Geneva were the biggest blow to Russia’s prestige in international institutions. Two United Nations General Assembly decisions condemned Russia’s aggressiveness in March, and the country was banned from the United Nations Human Rights Council on April 7.
A second vote of European WHO member countries at a regional meeting on May 10 encouraged the United Nations organization to adopt a tougher position on Russia during the war and urged WHO authorities to temporarily close a Moscow office.
Ukraine’s healthcare sector has suffered greatly as a result of the conflict. The WHO said in a report released on Thursday that during the war, there were 256 assaults on health institutions and workers, resulting in 59 reported injuries and 75 reported deaths. Since the war began, 3,998 civilian deaths have been reported.
Ukraine’s victory at the World Health Assembly, the year’s most important global health event, may not have immediate consequences for Russia. It did, however, point to provisions in the WHO constitution that allow for the removal of voting rights as well as other rights and privileges.
It was another further warning of Moscow’s global isolation, and it provided an opportunity for its numerous opponents to condemn the war’s impact both inside and outside Ukraine. More than 40 other countries, along with the United States and all European Union countries save Hungary, had signed on to Ukraine’s draught resolution.
“The destructive military activities jeopardize attempts to protect everyone’s healthcare and well-being [and] jeopardize WHO’s purpose,” said Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski. “In these instances, I believe the organization cannot stay quiet.”
“By voting down Russia’s draught, the World Health Assembly reaffirmed that the only accountability for the health situation in Ukraine lies with the Russian Federation,” said Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukraine’s permanent member to the United Nations in Geneva.
Those who did not support Russia, however, raised worry about the assembly’s condemnation of a particular country. In both votes, the percentage of abstentions was relatively significant.
The removal of a member’s voting rights would be exceptional, but not unparalleled: South Africa’s right to vote was revoked by the WHO in 1964 after the codified its racial segregation program. It did not reinstate the rights until 30 years after apartheid finished.
Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, released a statement saying that it was discussing withdrawing from both the WHO and the World Trade Organization. The two groups had “neglected all commitments in regard to our country,” according to Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy leader of the State Duma.