By Anastasiia Rudnieva, IOM Dnipro 

Over one million people in Ukraine lived with cancer according to official data from early 2022. The Russian Federation’s 24 February full-scale invasion of Ukraine has triggered multiple challenges for them and, in particular, posed enormous threats to the health and life of cancer patients who were trapped in the areas of active fighting. The oncology clinic* in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine, is the first point of help for those of them who manage to escape to this frontline city. Currently, the doctors of the clinic perform dozens of major surgeries every week. In 2022, more than 10,000 people were treated here, 2,000 of whom were those internally displaced. 

In addition to those who already have a clear diagnosis and need to continue their treatment, the clinic also receives patients whose health has deteriorated as a result of prolonged stay in the areas of hostilities. Constant fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, malnutrition and a lack of sleep put people at risk of cancer. 

“The number of tumours that we diagnose now has increased significantly,” says Dmytro Savenkov, Chief Oncological Surgeon of the Dnipropetrovsk oblast. Dr. Savenkov can partially explain this by the fact that last year many people were unable to undergo a health check in time.  

"I met patients who were diagnosed with tumours after leaving the territories under the military control of the Russian Federation. They attribute the oncology they developed to the stress they regularly experienced," comments Daria Pireeva, an ultrasound specialist.  

Since the beginning of the full-scale war, cancer care in Ukraine has been affected by multiple negative factors. Logistical problems and limited resources, including lack of medicines and technical equipment for diagnosing diseases and supporting cancer patients, are the main challenges faced by Ukrainian oncologists. 

To facilitate the work of doctors at the Dnipro Oncology Dispensary, IOM, with funding from the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief, provided the institution with a modern ultrasound diagnostic system, an electrocardiograph and five enternal feeding pumps.

Cancer care system in Ukraine is in need of support facing enormous workload. Photo: IOM\Anastasiia Rudnieva

Timely detection of cancer increases the likelihood of a person entering long-term remission. "Regular ultrasound examinations are recommended as a diagnostic tool. Unfortunately, there are patients who, due to their fear or other circumstances, avoid examinations and seek help at the last stages of cancer. Dynamic monitoring will help doctors detect the disease at an early stage and provide quality care to patients," reminds Dr. Savenkov.  

IOM has supported 12 medical facilities in Dnipropetrovsk Region with equipment, medicine and medical products. Also, three generators were provided to the Kryvyi Rih Oncological Dispensary and the Regional Clinical Centre for Cardiology and Cardiosurgery  to ensure their uninterrupted work during power outages. IOM mobile clinics working in the region have assisted 2,334 (541 male; 1,793 female) patients with consultations of doctors and psychologists, tests and medicine supplies, as well as health promotion activities. IOM will continue supporting internally displaced and war-affected patients in eastern Ukraine.  

*The Municipal Enterprise “Dnipro Clinical Oncology Dispensary” of the Dnipropetrovsk Region Council   

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being