Fighting COVID-19 in Ukraine with hygiene kits, TV ads, and virtual psychosocial supportPublished: Apr 28, 2020 Reading time: 3 minutes
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to much of the world, and Ukraine is no exception. As of April 27, Ukraine had 9,009 confirmed cases of the virus, and 220 deaths. The Ukrainian government has imposed quarantine measures to fight the continued spread of the virus, but in places like Donbas, where conflict is raging, COVID-19 is affecting already diminished health-care services.
Although there are certain limitations due to the quarantine, People in Need (PIN) Ukraine has continued delivering much-needed humanitarian assistance while adjusting to the current situation with new safety measures and rapid-response protocols. We have also launched a number of initiatives to help the conflict-affected people in eastern Ukraine with COVID-19 preparedness and support.
“PIN has rapidly started distributing items for handwashing and disinfection in order to help prevent and control the epidemic in the impoverished eastern region,” says Ania Okinczyc, PIN Ukraine Country Director. “These items are prioritized for the most vulnerable women, girls, boys, and men, and the institutions that directly serve them such as schools, orphanages, nursing homes, and health facilities. As active members of the humanitarian network in Ukraine, PIN and its partners have also participated in efforts to maximize the effectiveness of aid delivered. For instance, we are collaborating in the selection of hygiene kits that will best serve the needs of those most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.”
In order to reach as many people as possible, PIN, together with ACCESS Consortium partner Help Age International, produced leaflets and posters with information and practical advice on COVID-19, targeting seniors in particular, who are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. In eastern Ukraine, the elderly account for almost one third (32 percent) of conflict-affected people; it is the oldest population among humanitarian crises worldwide.
Informational materials are also being distributed in the conflict area by partner organizations operating in the field, as well as online. PIN and ACCESS Consortium partners also created an animated video about COVID-19, which is aired on local TV stations in Donbas with financial support from European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
Online psychological support and information on services
Psychosocial support is needed in Donbas now more than ever. People who have been living through the last six years of conflict are faced with yet another source of stress. In order to support them during quarantine, when social distancing has made face-to-face counselling to individuals or groups a challenge, PIN psychologists are providing online psychosocial support.
“Before the quarantine, PIN psychologists came to our kindergarten to provide activities for the children and counselling for parents and staff,” says Olena, director of a kindergarten in Toretsk, near the contact line in eastern Ukraine. “Now, due to the quarantine, the psychologists can no longer come in person. People are isolated at home and need this support even more as they are exposed to additional stress. It is good that we can receive psychological support from PIN psychologists through online webinars and phone counselling.”
The PIN Ukraine psychosocial hotline is working 24/7, fielding calls from people seeking assistance, information, and support. Additionally, an informational campaign was launched on Facebook to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to dispel common myths. PIN is recording and posting three-minutes videos with tips and advice on the PIN Ukraine FB page.