Around 6 pm local time, Saturday 5 March, one of Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) emergency response teams in Ukraine met Oleksandr Kamyshin, Chairman of the Board of Ukrainian Railways. MSF’s first international supplies had arrived in Ukraine, and had been unloaded in the warehouse, just a few hours before.
“The hospitals in Kyiv are desperate for supplies – we have what they need – can you help us get it to Kyiv?”
Simple question, and rapid answer. By midnight, the first batch of medical kits and supplies was loaded, and the train set to depart.
“It was urgent to do this fast,” says Christopher Stokes, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Ukraine. “We may be in a race against time here – we have no certainty how long train access to Kyiv will remain possible. We chose to go with the train option for reasons of speed and the high volume capacity.”
The supplies have been selected to treat trauma injuries typical of war settings. They include surgical kits, trauma kits, and basic necessities for intensive care units (ICUs), emergency rooms and surgical operating theatres. These necessities include instruments, equipment, medicines, drugs and other items. In total, around 40m3 of supplies have been sent.
We received confirmation at 15:30 local time that the supplies had been safely received by the Ministry of Health in Kyiv. They are now being sent on to hospitals in the city, and in other towns further east, where the numbers of wounded are rising and supplies are dwindling fast.
Increasingly urgent requests for medical supplies are coming in from many hospitals and health facilities in the more war-affected parts of Ukraine. MSF will seek ways to donate what is needed, where it is needed. More MSF supplies will be arriving in Ukraine, from international supply points, in the coming days, to enable more medical facilities to be re-supplied. Conflict-experienced MSF medical teams are also starting to arrive in Ukraine, from Moldova, Hungary and Poland.
“This war is brutal and high-intensity,” says Stokes. “Sending surgical teams to do hands-on medical work will be challenging, but we are actively looking at what could be possible.”
“Even distributing supplies to hospitals will be hard,” continues Stokes. “We know it has taken time, but we are scaling up fast – and these are the much-needed first steps as we build our concrete medical response.”