Many Ukrainian Doctors Affected by Russian Invasion

Nearly all Ukrainian physicians who responded to a recent Medscape survey say they have been affected by the Russian invasion, and an equally large share believes that international medical societies should expel Russian members.

Of the more than 2000 Ukrainian doctors who responded and are currently practicing medicine, 95% said they or their healthcare operations have been impacted by the war, based on data collected from March 23 to April 7.

Among the other respondents, 12% of US physicians and 17% of those outside the United States and Ukraine reported such an impact.

Respondents were invited to comment on their personal experience, and about 100 did so. A pediatric oncologist and hematologist from Poltava in northeast Ukraine said that the war has “forced dozens of my patients to leave their homes to continue treatment for cancer….It is absolutely unacceptable to receive chemotherapy for cancer in bomb shelters and basements.”

Dr Andrii Berbets of Bukovinian State Medical University in Chernivtsi, a city in southwest Ukraine, wrote that he had to interrupt his work “as a professor of ob/gyn and join the Ukrainian Armed Forces as an ordinary medical worker.”

Another respondent, a pediatric neurologist who also had a second, pharmacy-related job, explained that the company’s headquarters are in Kharkiv, “which is currently being bombed by Russian troops and they are forced to cease to exist as a company.”

Ukrainian opinion against the Russian medical establishment was almost universally negative, as 95% said that Russian physicians should be expelled from international professional societies.

Berbets said that “all Russian professional societies must be banned from all international medical activities permanently for justifying of the aggression.”

Several respondents based their opposition against the Russian medical community on a statement supporting the war from a national university organization, the Russian Union of Rectors, in early March.

Another response to the survey, however, offered a reason to maintain a Russian presence in medical societies: “The participation of Russian colleagues in professional associations is at least some opportunity to convey to them the true information about the nightmare that is happening in Ukraine.”

US and international physicians, perhaps, shared that line of reasoning. Just 16% of the 613 American physicians polled said that their Russian colleagues should be expelled, and 14% of the 5076 non-US, non-Ukrainian respondents (including 300 Russian doctors) agreed with that stance.

The divide between Ukrainian and US/non-US physicians was slightly smaller regarding the issue of medical societies taking public stances on political issues: 85% of Ukrainian respondents said they should, compared with 24% of Americans and 21% of the international doctors. The US physicians were almost as likely to say that it depended on the issue (35%) as they were to say no (40%), the survey data show.



 

Ukrainian physicians also believe more strongly than the others that pharmaceutical companies should stop selling medicines in Russia. Just 4% of the Ukrainian respondents support continued sales of all drugs to Russia, vs 54% of Americans and 70% of the international group, with the three groups closer together on continued sales of lifesaving medications only: 29% for Ukrainians, 30% for Americans, and 21% for those outside the US and Ukraine.

American physicians were less likely (32%) to say that they had taken personal action to oppose Russian actions against Ukraine compared with Ukrainian (93%) physicians, but more likely than the international group (28%), with its contingent of Russian doctors.

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