War Update #24 – Missile Attack – Russian Stock Market Shuttered – Health Concerns Increase

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 23, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Russia continues artillery bombardment of Ukraine cities. As well overnight a series of missile strikes has killed at least 35 people were and wounded another 134 early Sunday. The attack was focused on a military facility in Western Ukraine located about 15 miles from the border with Poland.

Reports are that the Yavoriv military range near Lviv, also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, which has been utilized for exercises by NATO troops and Ukrainians, with Americans on-site as recently as February was targeted. Ukrainian officials are working to ascertain whether foreigners were present Sunday when the attack happened.

The attack came a day after Moscow warned that it viewed Western weapons shipments as legitimate targets. The attack has increased the possibility of a direct conflict with the West.

Economic Battle Front

Russia’s Central Bank has extended the closure of the Moscow Exchange equity market until March 18th at the least. The Central Bank is seeking to shield domestic investors from the impact of international sanctions. Over $30 billion has been erased from Russia’s annual gross domestic product, according to Bloomberg news reports. That loss rivals all the setbacks of two years of pandemic restrictions and economic contraction.

American Journalist Killed

Priority public health concerns

• Conflict related trauma and injuries exacerbated due to increasing intensity of violence and by lack of access to health facilities by patients and health staff due to insecurity and difficulties for safe access to lifesaving medicine and supplies.

• Risk of excess illness and death from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and cancer due to a disruption in medical supply lines and health services.

• Risk of emergence and spread of infectious diseases such as measles, polio, COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, tuberculosis (TB), HIV and diarrheal diseases due to widespread destruction of water and sanitation infrastructure, inadequate vaccination coverage, lack of access to medicines and medical care, population movements and over-crowding.

• Risk of mental health and psychosocial health deterioration due to significant stress from acute conflict in addition to two years of living with COVID-19.

• Protection issues: risk of human trafficking exacerbated by an increasingly vulnerable situation for refugee populations, particularly for unaccompanied children and young people, and lack of resource management or follow-up within surrounding countries.

• Escalated risk of gender-based violence as women, children and the elderly travel and stay in reception centers, apartments and houses alone or with volunteer families.

• Risk to maternal health due to lack of access to obstetric care will increase the risk of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. It is expected that 80 000 women will give birth in Ukraine in the next three months.

WHO Actions

• Coordinating the health response in support of the MoH in Ukraine and surrounding countries; • Monitoring technological and environmental hazards, and industrial sites affected by the conflict;

• Conducting public health risk assessments, and health facility and service assessments; • Scaling-up surveillance and health information to detect and respond to outbreaks early and to better understand health needs, health threats, and the functionality and availability of health services;

• Providing WHO technical support and surge staff to manage the priority health concerns as well as mobilizing partners through EMTs, the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) and the Global Health Cluster, among others;

• Providing health supplies and logistics capacity to deliver medicines, diagnostics, as well as trauma and preventive supplies;

• Provision of vaccines and supporting vaccination campaigns against vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and polio, to surrounding countries.​​​​​​​

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