Ukraine: Helping seniors access health care on the front lines of conflict

Older man holding a cat, smiling, surrounded by MSF staff

Ukraine 2021 © Lilia Rarog/MSF

When the conflict in eastern Ukraine began in 2014, many people fled from the villages and towns near the fighting. “Mostly the elderly remain. Those who were able to leave have left,” said Valentyna, a volunteer working with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Many of these seniors are living with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. Yet they often find it difficult to access health care. Incidents of shelling and shooting happen almost daily in some areas. Around many villages, landmines remain a serious threat. Transportation systems remain disrupted, and many services are simply not available. “People can’t afford to get to a hospital," said Tetiana, another MSF volunteer. "If I didn’t have this ancient car, I wouldn’t be able to either!”

Since 2020, MSF has been supporting volunteers like Valentyna and Tetiana to provide free transportation for seniors to clinics or hospitals, fill and deliver prescription medications, and share accurate health information.