The war in Ukraine is escalating rapidly, leading to a massive humanitarian crisis, with medical services being interrupted by the warfare and critical supplies unable to reach those who need them most. After Russian aggression against Ukraine ViveoCares Foundation, the Estonia-based NGO launched an initiative Telehealth without borders for all doctors across the world who want to support Ukrainian citizens with medical advice in this hour of need. Doctors of 11 nationalities have now joined the platform and provide medical assistance to Ukrainian people in 3 languages — English, Ukrainian, and Russian.
Tallinn, Estonia, 2nd April 2022
“Everyone should do what they can do best to help Ukrainians now. We, doctors, can help,” said doctor Sergey Agibalov, a general practitioner from Prospect Medical Caspian in Almaty, Kazakhstan, who was one of the first doctors to join the platform.
While some doctors on the Viveo Health platform like doctor Olga Lutsyk were able to embark on a 10-day medical journey to aid refugees of the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the Polish/Ukrainian border; others have found a way to contribute from distance. “Some of my colleagues were able to collect medical equipment and money to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine. But for many of us who want to contribute by applying our professional knowledge and expertise, providing online consultations is a great way to help people in need,” added doctor Svetlana Blitshteyn, a neurologist specializing in autonomic disorders at Dysautonomia Clinic and a Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at the University at the Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
More than 100 doctors from the world’s top medical facilities have already opened their calendars on the Viveo Health platform to provide free medical consultations to people in Ukraine. “We are privileged to volunteer in this way. The telehealth platform allows us to provide this very valuable medical service to people in Ukraine who are now living in the middle of the war. Many Ukrainians have no access to their local physicians, while many hospitals and pharmacies in Ukraine have been destroyed. Ukrainians need healthcare. With the online consultations, I can assess the patient’s symptoms and offer a possible diagnosis and treatment options that can be employed at their current location, whether they are at home or the shelter,” says doctor Svetlana Blitshteyn. “I think it’s great that the Telehealth Without Borders program allows us to contribute to medical care in this way.”
While medical facilities are focused on urgent trauma patients, other health threats are looming. In wartime, healthcare crises — a lack of access to hospitals and treatment, outbreaks of disease, malnutrition, and the like — often kill far more people than bombs and bullets. Doctor Sergey Agibalov sees the COVID cases numbers begin increasing again. “Many of my patients that I have consulted so far show COVID-related symptoms.” Other common symptoms are fever, rash, diarrhea, panic attacks in children and adults, and different pregnancy and lactation process complications.
Some people are in safer areas with access to pharmacies and some medical care. However, some Ukrainians are in heavily bombed cities where there is no infrastructure or healthcare anymore. Having health issues or worries, they are left on their own. Access to doctors online allows them to consult medical professionals and get the care and the right information. “I’m able to provide the patients with information on what could be done for their medical problem under these circumstances,” says doctor Svetlana Blitshteyn.
Doctors agree they can’t do what we want to do, being so far from Ukrainian patients. But they can give the best information and advice under the circumstances. Former nurse and pediatrician from Kyiv and now practicing Cardiology PA from New York, doctor Yuliya Safyanovskaya says that Telehealth gives the possibility for patients with chronic diseases to talk to doctors. “We can give them care, so they will have some peace of mind,” added doctor Safyanovskaya.
“My first patient was a 20-year-old young woman,” shares doctor Blitshteyn, “with several psychiatric conditions. She fled to another country on her own, leaving all her relatives and friends behind. She has no friends or relatives in the unfamiliar country. She was having issues because the medication she took for her psychiatric conditions was running out. The best advice I could give her was to look for the same or similar medication in the new for her country to avoid stopping the medication abruptly or changing over to a completely new medication while living alone. If she was living with relatives or friends that could check on her, switching to a new medication would’ve been safe because someone could check on her in case she wasn’t feeling well.”
Doctor Blitshteyn adds that helping people from war regions via online consultation adds a whole different view. Patients from there no longer have access to doctors and barely have access to medications. “I consulted one woman because her husband was having episodes of speech arrest. By description, it sounded like it could be either seizures or mini-strokes. They had no access to medical facilities and could not check his blood pressure. The most proper advice in that situation I could give was to give him aspirin daily to prevent a big stroke if these episodes were mini-strokes,” explained doctor Blitsteyn. “You need to use your clinical judgment and decide on the spot what the best course of action is under the circumstances”.
The founder and CEO of Viveo Health is calling on all medical doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical experts to support the people of Ukraine with their medical concerns. “The shift from physical consultations to telemedicine will not only enable international healthcare practitioners to help Ukrainians affected by the Russian aggression but also save some people’s lives,” said Raul Källo, the CEO of Viveo Health.
Ukrainians need healthcare practitioners’ knowledge. Doctors are able to set their own schedules. They can structure these volunteer efforts to be in between regular job appointments. Doctor Sergey Agibalov adds that 2-3 hours daily to donate is not a big deal but can make a huge difference in some people’s lives.
Are you a medical health professional willing to help Ukrainians or are you a Ukrainian who seeks any kind of medical advice? Please, visit https://viveohealth.com/ukraine/ for additional information.
Individuals and corporates can donate to support volunteer doctors and Ukrainian people through the Raisely platform: https://viveo-cares-for-ukraine.raisely.com/.
Об'єдналися із Doctor Online заради допомоги ще більшій кількості українців. Можливості платформи та умови отримання безкоштовних консультацій.
Pipedrive arendusjuht ja personalijuht liituvad Eesti telemeditsiini iduettevõtte juhtkonnaga.
Doctors from 11 nationalities have joined the platform and provide medical assistance online to Ukrainian people in 3 languages.