The Wounds of War

Blog #102- 3/19/22

By Richard Davis

Thanks to the heroic efforts of journalists risking their lives in war zones, the world is able to see the human tragedy of mankind‘s worst behavior. Coverage of the war in Ukraine has been exceptional and the continued work of journalists is a critical factor in any movement toward a cease-fire or the end of the war.

Among the many tragedies unfolding is that of a lack of access to timely medical care for people with chronic diseases that require drugs and treatment on an ongoing basis. Diabetes comes to mind because, without insulin, type1 diabetics can die. It is that simple.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for Ukrainian diabetics who are not sure if they will be able to get another vial of insulin to keep their disease under control. According to a recent piece on, “Diabetes care and access to insulin and other medications in Ukraine have been “severely disrupted” since Russia’s invasion, with shortages resulting more from distribution problems than supply itself, according to multiple sources. In 2021, there were about 2.3 million people with diabetes in Ukraine, roughly 7% of the total population. Of those, about 120,000 have type 1 diabetes and depend on insulin to live, while a similar number have insulin-treated type 2 diabetes.”

They go on, “Donations of insulin, other medications, and supplies have been pouring in since late February from sources including the Ukrainian diaspora, nongovernmental organizations, other European governments, universities, and product manufacturers. “The main problem now is logistic,” Boris Mankovsky, MD, president of the Ukrainian Diabetology Association, told Medscape Medical News in an interview. Insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk’s warehouse continues to operate, although deliveries have been curtailed due to shortages in delivery staff. The company is working to get medications to patients either through pharmacies or humanitarian organizations and has funded refugee support efforts, they said in a March 8 statement.”

It sounds like there are significant efforts to help diabetics but that insulin may not be getting to the people who need it in a timely manner. And then what happens if diabetics suffer the complications of a lack of insulin? If they are in Ukraine it will be difficult to find anyone to treat them. Those diabetics who have become refugees may fare better as they cross into countries away from home.

The Russians have bombed a number of health care facilities and they continue to show a complete disregard for human life by ignoring every facet of the wartime conventions. As far as Putin is concerned, there are no rules of war and he is doing whatever he wants. When his actions are condemned by the rest of the world he simply says that they are lying and that those horrific actions were never carried out. Lying is a powerful tool for deranged autocrats.

It was also noted on the Medscape web site that, “According to the type 1 diabetes advocacy organization JDRF, many men with diabetes aged 18-60 are remaining in Ukraine to fight, despite the increased risk with the disease. But an estimated 15,000 children with type 1 diabetes and their families are attempting to escape the conflict by moving to the western regions of the country or over the borders.”

“Those who make it to Hungary, Moldova, Poland, or Romania are being received with wonderful generosity. We have heard stories ranging from governments making it possible to pick up insulin free without a script to individuals emptying their cupboards of insulin for those whose need is urgent,” JDRF said in a statement on March 2. For its part, Novo Nordisk has donated 55 million Danish kroner (about 7.3 million Euros, or $8.2 million US dollars) to support international relief organizations in assisting refugees.”

The news about diabetes care is tragic. Other health tragedies also include hypothermia, frostbite, respiratory diseases, mental health issues, and a lack of treatment for heart disease and cancer. And then there are the wounds of warfare…

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