War in Ukraine: Impacts on the Polish cancer care system and vaccination challenges

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Published: 4 May 2022
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Prof Piotr Rutkowski - National Research Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland

The invasion by Russia of Ukraine on the 24th February 2022 has created a massive humanitarian crisis for Ukraine and Europe generating huge challenges for cancer and palliative care. As of the 1st May some 12-13 million Ukrainian citizens were still trapped in active conflict zones, nearly 8 million had become internally displaced, mostly to the West, and nearly 6 million had left to become refugees.

In support of the WHO Ukraine Cancer Emergency Response and the ECO-ASCO Special Network: Impact of the War in Ukraine on Cancer ecancer has commissioned a special set of interviews with some of the key actors in the cancer humanitarian response both within and outside Ukraine.

This first set of interviews, conducted some 2 months into the conflict, serve both as sources of on-the-ground experience and as living witness and testament to the extraordinary work of doctors, patient organisations, professional groups and UN agencies such as WHO in their efforts to adapt to the many challenges.

Prof Richard Sullivan (Kings College London, London, UK) and Prof Piotr Rutkowski (National Research Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland) discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine on cancer.

They begin by discussing what the crisis has meant for Poland and how it has handled the surge of Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum in Poland.

Prof Rutkowski then goes on to talk about communication issues such as language barriers and translation of medical records, as well as the number of refugees who are going on to settle in Poland.

He also touches upon the differences in standards of care between the nations, namely the difference in available cancer drugs as well as the number of refugees who are still to be vaccinated (COVID and otherwise).

You can read more about the Special Network here and here