What were you doing one month ago? Somewhere in a basement in Mariupol, Maksym, a general practitioner and cardiologist, was performing life-saving surgeries with a box cutter instead of a scalpel.
The battered Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has become a leitmotif of the war: the city hospital was constantly under fire. “Missiles hit the perinatal centre, the maternity ward—everything,” remembers Maksym
Maksym is now part of IOM’s mobile medical teams currently providing primary health care services and mental health and psychological support to internally displaced persons and host communities.
Each mobile clinic is comprised of one doctor, one nurse and a psychologist. Mobile clinic primary health services include consultations, screening and referral for diseases (including COVID-19), and other services.
Most of the patients are women, children, and elderly people often suffering from chronic illnesses. The initiative is a lifeline for those displaced.
Maksym knows that it’s not only the patients who have had to endure the hardships of war and displacement, but also the medics who have stayed. “Hospitals became strategic targets,” he says.
The psychologists working with IOM’s implementing partner conduct individual and group counselling, alongside mental health awareness sessions.
Most of the patients at the clinic are women, children, and elderly people often suffering from chronic illnesses.
“I only left Kharkiv for the sake of my two children,” says Olena, an anaesthesiologist from Kharkiv. “They both had nightmares and could not sleep; they were afraid because the house was constantly shaking.”
One day Olena found space on an evacuation train, but even then, she and her children nearly lost their lives when an attack targeted a railway station as they passed through.
Before she left Kharkiv, Olena sent all but the most severely ill to the basement and sat upstairs with her bedridden patients for days without relief, since no other doctors could get to the hospital.
She now works alongside Maksym in an IOM mobile clinic in the town of Belz bordering Poland in western Ukraine.