Med’EqualiTeam – Poland
Since the war in Ukraine started on 24/2/2022, more than 6,5 millions persons have left the country and half of them fled to Poland (source : UNHCR). It is unclear how many people stayed there, as some went further to Western Europe, also some went back after some weeks to Ukraine.
However it is quite certain that many families, mostly women (men between 18 and 60 are banned from leaving Ukraine due to martial war), elderly and children, stayed in Poland and will for the coming future. The presence of a Ukrainian community present before the war, the heart warming support offered by Polish people, as well as the European directions regarding access to asylum, education and right to work for 18 months, means they can settle there if they want. They get a PESEL number which allows them healthcare and diverse administrative steps.
Demographics of Ukrainian refugees applying for PESEL number in Poland, May 2022
In the first days, the acute needs were at the borders, crossing points and train stations, but this got quickly covered by local NGOs, the red cross and local or international volunteers.
However as the situation drags on, there starts to be a struggle by the Polish community to keep on the same level of time and donations. While many hosted families in their own accommodation, they can’t do it for more than a few weeks, even with the limited monetary donation provided by the government to support with food and bills. It seems there are still no middle or long term plans regarding accommodation.
In terms of health care, the situation was already complicated before the war started with a very depleted public health system, a big shift towards private care for those who could afford and the departure of medics abroad. The medical situation of the Ukrainian refugees, while not critical at the moment, will bring a large burden on the public health system, associated with risk of an outbreak due to the lack of vaccination in the Ukrainian population (Covid, polio, measles) and high prevalence of multi resistant tuberculosis, untreated chronic diseases and mental health challenges.
The region of Opole is a small voivodeship (administrative unit) South-West of Poland. It is currently hosting 25,000 Ukrainian refugees, either in centres or with Polish families. In cooperation with the local authorities, we will provide medical care for the refugees hosted in these centres.
The work will be done through mobile units, composed of 1 Doctor, 1 Medical Student or Nurse or Junior Doctor, 1 Ukrainian translator and 1 admin/log volunteer. The plan will be to have 2 mobile units, and adjust the number depending on the evolution of the number of consultations needed. Days and hours of working will be adjusted with the different centres and distance needed to travel.
One of the “transit centres”, Sokrates, where people stay only a few nights before moving to another centre in the region or another destination.
We plan to start on 20 June 2022 with a first week of evaluation in the different centres then begin the medical activities. Cooperation with a local pharmacy is already being created, links with the local health centres will need to be established. Integration at the national level with health coordination meetings has been established since April.