Restoring access to primary healthcare in war torn areas: WHO's 14 modular primary care facilities replace damaged facilities for Ukraine's frontline communities
12 October 2023
The ongoing war in Ukraine, caused by the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion, continues to bring daily destruction and loss of life. It has severely impacted the healthcare sector, resulting in the disruption of essential primary health care services for frontline communities. Amid to the humanitarian crisis, healthcare facilities have been affected since 24 February 2022, with over 1,200 attacks recorded by WHO. To ensure continued access to primary healthcare in areas where existing facilities are destroyed or irreparable, WHO is installing modular primary care facilities in partnership with the Ministry of Health Ukraine (MOH) Ukraine.
The modular primary care facilities are prefabricated healthcare units to ensure quick installation on the spot. To scale up primary care infrastructure these units are one of WHO's key response and recovery projects in Ukraine, offering a rapid solution to an acute problem. While they are a temporary solution, they can serve as replacements for damaged facilities for up to 10 years.
Currently, there are 14 modular primary care clinics in total, with five fully operational and three currently in progress of installation, and three will be installed soon. This total also includes three units in contingency stock for emergencies. The project covers four regions identified by authorities, including Kherson, Kharkiv, Sumy, and Mykolayv.
On October 3, 2023, as part of this initiative, a new modular primary healthcare clinic was installed in the village of Khukra in the Sumy region.
This newly installed structure will serve as an outpatient facility, like the other modular clinics, providing primary healthcare services to a population of over three thousand.
All these modular clinics are equipped with essential amenities, including electricity, sanitary facilities, sewage systems, waiting rooms, and patient examination rooms. Generators and air fans are provided to maintain an optimal environment for healthcare delivery.
The modular clinic in the Sumy region comprises 8 prefabricated modules combined to form a fully functional health facility, with 4 rooms for receiving patients and the capacity 11 healthcare workers to work simultaneously. This clinic, like others, will be staffed by health care workers, as primary care physician and nurses, who previously worked at damaged or destroyed facilities, ensuring continuity of primary care.
Other modular clinics are also assembled from varying numbers of prefabricated modules, depending on the required number of patient rooms. These structures can be assembled and installed within just 10 days to 2 weeks each.
Gerald Rockenschaub, Regional Emergency Director of WHO Regional Office for Europe: "The war in Ukraine has had devastating repercussions for the healthcare sector, severely limiting access to essential services in frontline communities. Through this initiative, WHO is working tirelessly to restore vital primary health services. Despite facing numerous challenges and experiencing a higher number of healthcare attacks than any other humanitarian emergency worldwide, WHO remains committed to this critical support for Ukraine."
Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine at World Health Organization: "Modular clinics serve as temporary replacements for damaged facilities in the areas most affected by the war, providing infrastructure where doctors and nurses can provide essential primary healthcare services, particularly for chronic conditions where needs are highest. This initiative aligns with the broader humanitarian and United Nations effort to empower frontline communities and facilitate community-driven recovery, addressing the gap in access to vital primary healthcare, which is a fundamental step in restoring normalcy. For us, this represents the true bridge between acute response and early recovery for health".
Maryna Slobodnichenko, Deputy Minister of Health for European Integration: "For more than 19 months of the war, Russia has damaged more than 1,400 healthcare facilities and destroyed another 190. The enemy is purposefully terrorizing Ukrainians and destroying healthcare facilities every day. Every bullet and projectile are a proof of this deliberate terror against civilians, said Deputy Minister for European Integration Maryna Slobodnichenko. - However, thanks to strong support and cooperation with WHO and other international partners, step by step we manage to move forward and rebuild destroyed hospitals so that patients have full access to the essential healthcare. The creation of modular clinics) is a very important collaboration for us, aimed at real results and helping our patients today."
Emanuele Bruni, Incident Manager in WHO Ukraine: “We are in the final stages of installation for all the modular clinics, and they will soon be fully functional, ready to receive patients starting from this autumn. This sustainable yet swift solution is designed to ensure an effective emergency response and qualified primary health care”.
As part of the first stage of the project, Sumy region marks the third installation, and 8 more modules will be distributed soon, as indicated by the MOH's priority list for the most affected regions.
The Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UHF) is providing the necessary financial support for this project.