WHO member states slam Russian attacks on Ukraine health sites | Health News

The WHO resolution states the war has seriously impeded access to healthcare in Ukraine, and has regional implications.

Member states of the World Health Organisation have slammed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and attacks by Russian forces on Ukrainian healthcare facilities in a resolution overwhelmingly adopted in Geneva, further isolating Moscow on the international stage.

The 88-12 vote at the WHO’s annual assembly on Thursday met a Russian counter-resolution on the health crisis in Ukraine. The counter-resolution made no mention of Russia’s war in Ukraine and was rejected by 66 votes to 15, with 70 abstentions.

The resolution adopted by the WHO “condemns in the strongest terms” Russia’s “military aggression against Ukraine, including attacks on healthcare facilities”.

It also urged Russia to “immediately cease any attacks on hospitals” and other healthcare sites.

Ukrainian ambassador to the UN in Geneva Yevheniia Filipenko said the resolution “sends a clear signal to the Russian Federation: stop your war against Ukraine. Stop attacks on hospitals.”

“The World Health Assembly confirmed that the responsibility for the health crisis in Ukraine rests exclusively with the Russian Federation,” Filipenko said.

The World Health Assembly is the annual gathering of the WHO’s member states and serves as the UN health agency’s decision-making body.

The resolution was initiated by Ukraine and co-sponsored by, among others, the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Turkey and European Union countries. Of the 194 WHO member states, 183 had the right to vote.

Poland’s ambassador Zbigniew Czech, who voted in favour of the resolution, said, “Let’s be honest: what we are witnessing in Ukraine is genocide.”

The resolution states that the war has seriously impeded access to healthcare in Ukraine and is having wider health implications across the region.

The resolution urged Russia to respect and protect all medical and humanitarian personnel, as well as the sick and wounded, in line with international law, and called for safe, rapid and unhindered access to people in need of help, and the free flow of essential medicines and equipment.

For a month now, Russian forces have repeatedly attacked Ukrainian medical facilities, striking at hospitals, ambulances, medics, patients and even newborns – with at least 34 assaults on health-related entities independently documented by The Associated Press.

Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Alexander Alimov said, “Any attempts to isolate or to blame the Russian Federation specifically for the health situation in the country is unacceptable”.

“Russia is bringing peace to Ukraine,” he insisted.

The WHO has verified 256 separate attacks on healthcare in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24. The WHO said 75 people have died and 59 have been injured in those attacks. Heavy weapons were used in 212 of the attacks.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly called on Moscow to stop the war, and Russia has asked Tedros “to visit in person in order to learn about Russia’s efforts to resolve the healthcare and humanitarian crisis” in Ukraine.

By Percy