Upholding Human Rights: The Right to Health for Ukrainian Refugees 

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Roumman Amir, a 5th year Medical Student at Dubai Medical College for Girls in UAE. She 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.

2014 proved to be a devastating year that led to a massive displacement of people, with over millions of Ukrainians being forced to flee their homes. These refugees face a copious number of challenges in their new host countries, with limited access to healthcare services sitting atop the healthcare pyramid. As Martin Luther King Jr. quoted, “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane,” solidifying an unsaid fact that the right to health is a fundamental human right. This right embraces access to healthcare services as well as underlying social risk factors, such as access to safe housing, clean water, and nutritious food. Sadly, for many Ukrainian refugees, this fundamental right has become a hurdle.

 Relocating to a new geographical location presents a challenge for these refugees. The language barriers create a gap in establishing an understanding with healthcare providers, and cultural differences lead to misunderstandings of healthcare practices. Limited access to funds limits options to pay for any medical services, and as a consequence, basic medical treatments are neglected.

 As a solution to these interminable problems, it is vital for host countries to recognize the health rights of Ukrainian refugees and take steps towards them. This includes but is not limited to language translation services, culturally appropriate healthcare practices, or ensuring they have access to affordable healthcare services or insurance. It is vital that these rights are upheld.

 Unfortunately, many of these refugees live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, which leads to the spread of diseases and other health problems. Host countries can help address these issues by providing safe and affordable housing, clean water, and food.

 Another important but understated aspect of health rights is mental health. Experiencing conflict and fleeing one’s home can have deteriorating effects on a person’s mental wellbeing, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The importance of mental health for refugees and providing access to mental health services and support should also be another goal of hosting countries.

 In conclusion, the health rights of Ukrainian refugees are indispensable for their well-being and should be acknowledged and upheld by host countries. This includes providing access to healthcare services, addressing social risk factors, and providing mental health services and support. By upholding the health rights of Ukrainian refugees, host countries can help ensure that all refugees are able to live healthy and fulfilling lives, regardless of their circumstances.

About the author

Roumman Amir is a 5th year Medical Student at Dubai Medical College for Girls in UAE, whose unwavering commitment to healthcare and advocacy for marginalized communities makes her a remarkable individual. Her upbringing in a diverse environment has instilled in her a compassionate and unbiased approach towards others, both personally and professionally. Roumman’s passion for her field, combined with her ability to connect with people on a human level, make her a promising future healthcare provider.

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