Considerations on health for countries that host refugees and repatriated due to the emergency in Ukraine and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

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For several weeks now, reports describe massive population displacement from Ukraine to countries and territories in Europe and other continents (1, 2). The current priority public health concerns for Ukraine highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO) are conflict related trauma and injuries, exacerbated by lack of access to health facilities by patients and health staff due to insecurity and lack of access to lifesaving medicines, vaccines, and supplies; excess morbidity and death from illnesses due to disruption in essential services for non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, etc.) and acute maternal, newborn, and child illnesses. In addition, there is a risk of increase of communicable diseases such as COVID-19, influenza, measles, polio, diphtheria, neonatal and non-neonatal tetanus, tuberculosis, HIV, and diarrheal diseases, including cholera, due to widespread destruction of critical infrastructure, which has caused a lack of access to medical care and medicines, safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as population displacement, crowding, and inadequate vaccination coverage. Furthermore, mental and psychosocial health, due to the significant stress caused by the conflict and two consecutive years of the COVID-19 pandemic (1, 2).

The majority of displaced population from Ukraine are women, children, and older adults. Population displacement is a risk factor for communicable diseases and vaccine-preventable diseases, among others.

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