The health rights of Ukrainian refugees

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Erick Enock Magese, a Tanzanian 5th year medical student at Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences located in Mwanza, Tanzania. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The senseless belligerence of Russia against Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has generated a historical mass migration of people fleeing the conflict, unseen in Europe since World War II. While it took two years to reach 3 million Syrian refugees, this number was hit in less than three weeks for Ukraine(1).This resulted into various challenges. Among these challenges are health-related issues, which can have a significant impact on the well-being of refugees. In this article, we will explore the health rights of Ukrainian refugees and the challenges they face in accessing healthcare.

The right to health is a fundamental human right recognized by the international community. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the right to health means that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes access to all medical services, sanitation, adequate food, decent housing, healthy working conditions, and a clean environment.”

However, for Ukrainian refugees, accessing healthcare can be a significant challenge. Many refugees have limited financial resources and are unable to pay for healthcare services(2). Additionally, language barriers may prevent refugees from understanding their medical conditions and the treatments available to them.

Moreover, refugees may face discrimination in the healthcare system. Some healthcare providers may be biased against refugees and may not provide them with the same level of care as they would to other patients. This can lead to inadequate or inappropriate medical treatment, which can have serious consequences for the health of refugees.

To address these challenges, the Ukrainian government and international organizations have implemented various programs and initiatives to improve the health of refugees. For example, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has partnered with local NGOs to provide healthcare services to refugees in Ukraine. These services include medical consultations, diagnostic tests, and treatment for chronic diseases.

The Ukrainian government has also implemented a healthcare program for refugees, which provides them with access to free healthcare services. The program covers a range of medical services, including consultations, diagnostic tests, and hospitalization.

Despite these efforts, many refugees still face significant challenges in accessing healthcare. Language barriers, discrimination, and limited financial resources continue to prevent many refugees from receiving the healthcare they need.

In conclusion, the health rights of Ukrainian refugees are essential for their well-being and should be protected. Access to healthcare services is a fundamental human right, and refugees should be provided with the same level of care as other patients. The Ukrainian government and international organizations must continue to work together to address the challenges facing refugees in accessing healthcare services and ensure that they receive the medical care they need to lead healthy and productive lives.


1. Rights and Support for Ukrainian Refugees in Receiving Countries Rights and Support for Ukrainian Refugees in Receiving Countries. 

2. Zimba O. Refugee Health : A Global and Multidisciplinary Challenge. 2023;38(6):1–7. 

About the author

My name is Erick Enock Magese. I am a Tanzanian 5th year medical student at Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences located in Mwanza, Tanzania. I am also a member of The Tanzania Medical Students Association (TAMSA) and a former National officer of SCORE -Standing committee of Research Exchange for the regime 2020-2021

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