Europe: Private clinics provide emergency care for refugees

We interview Dr. Paul Garassus, current European Union of Private Hospitals' president on refugee aid coordination in the countries bordering Ukraine.

Ukraine: European private hospitals mobilise

Interview with Dr. Paul Garassus, UEHP President

Article translated from the original French version.

esanum: Dr Garassus, how is the EUHP supporting the people of Ukraine?

Ukraine's large neighbouring countries that are receiving the many refugees are part of the EUHP. We are coordinating the efforts of private institutions in Poland, Romania and Moldova. More than two million people have fled to these three countries in a fortnight. Fortunately, there has been a huge wave of support, including from many private hospitals that are getting involved quite concretely.

The influx of refugees is massive in Poland. Emergency accommodation is the priority. Private clinics in Poland are providing their rooms, beds and blankets to set up and equip temporary reception centres. The Ukrainian and Polish people share a close bond, their languages are similar. They are united by a common painful past. Solidarity is therefore all the greater.

In Moldova, hospitals near the border have opened their doors to refugees. There, they receive free treatment around the clock. I know of similar initiatives in Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.

esanum: What challenges are you facing on the ground?

Logo UEHP.jpgLogistics is the biggest problem in the field. The equipment intended for Ukraine, especially medical supplies, has to be stored and transported. In Poland, there are now warehouses. We have local contacts who send us a daily list of items in need, so we know where to send them.

The real difficulty comes then. How to get all the material to Ukrainian territory and especially to the frontline areas? As yet, there are hardly any channels and thus no convoys. Smaller packages are entrusted to people on their way into Ukraine, but it is hard to say what really arrives.

We use two ways to adapt our aid to the needs in the field. One is that we raise funds to finance the transport of aid. Paradoxically, the need for money for transport is now greater than the need for equipment itself. The Austrian Association of Private Hospitals, one of the twelve member associations of UEHP, set a good example and made an immediate donation of EUR 30,000. Others followed suit.

The second is that we are in touch with the main European institutions, be it the European Union or the International Committee of the Red Cross. These bodies are coordinating to take advantage of the humanitarian corridors that are finally opening up. UEHP is putting itself at their disposal.

A short biography of Dr. Paul Garassus

Neurologist Paul Garassus is President of the European Union of Private Hospitals (UEHP), which represents twelve national associations* with more than 5,000 private healthcare facilities. UEHP's aim is to strengthen private hospitals in Europe as an extension of the public health system. Its principles include ensuring equal access to healthcare, quality of care and sustainability of healthcare systems. In Europe, 20% of the hospitals are operated by private stakeholders.

*Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Principality of Monaco, Romania, Spain, Switzerland.