As UICC has reported in the past, the majority of people with cancer in conflict-affected areas are unable to get appropriate care, as regions become inaccessible, hospitals and health centres are damaged or destroyed and health workers are injured, killed or displaced. Health systems in neighbouring countries risk being overwhelmed by refugees fleeing these regions, at a time when they are already struggling with a backlog of cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, people who require treatment and care experience additional obstacles, including emotional or physical trauma, limited financial resources and language or cultural barriers if they are forced to leave their countries.
As so many other UICC member organisations in other parts of the world affected by conflict and unrest have also demonstrated, cancer organisations in this region are showing remarkable resilience. The National Cancer Institute of Ukraine has set up a psychological assistance hotline and has resumed scheduled chemotherapy as of 2 March. The Tabletochki Charity Foundation, which supports children with cancer and Ukrainian children’s hospitals, has set up a donation page to help cover antimicrobial drugs, cancer medications and therapy for children with cancer.
In these unprecedented times, UICC has received requests from some of its members to help bridge funds into Ukraine and the local region.
"As we are all shocked with the violent turn of events in Ukraine and the tragic loss of civilian lives, we have asked UICC if it could help clear funds for Ukrainian member organisations who are critical in the provision of continued cancer care services. The moment the cancer care solidarity fund for Ukraine is operational, the Dutch Cancer Society will contribute Euro 100,000 in unrestricted funding. We hope and trust other cancer societies will join in to support our colleagues in Ukraine in their hour of need."
– Johan van de Gronden, CEO of the Dutch Cancer Society
The Fund will be established in Geneva under the authority of UICC and its Board of Directors with the input of experts and will make decisions on disbursement in accordance with the needs of members in Ukraine and the surrounding countries in the coming weeks and months. Full reporting will be made available to all those who donate to the Fund and it will be subject to the accounting and internal financial rules applied to other funds operated by UICC on behalf of members and partners.
“As with all conflict and crisis situations, UICC is saddened by the events in Ukraine and the devastating impact on people's lives and on health services and patients. It shows the great strength and spirit of the cancer community that some of our members wish UICC to help direct their funds to those who need it most.”
– Prof. Anil D’Cruz, President of UICC, Director of Oncology at Apollo Hospitals, India
Moving forwards, UICC will be examining how best to respond to situations of conflict that cause significant disruptions to cancer services, endangering the ongoing treatment of people living with cancer, particularly when they are displaced from their homes and points of care.