Ukrainian hospitals struggle amid health care cuts

In this photo taken on Saturday, May 9, 2020, a paramedic helps a patient suspected of having coronavirus to get out from an ambulance to a hospital in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. Ambulance medics experience shortages of protective gear and many ambulance medics in the city got infected. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

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UPDATED 10:21 AM PT — Monday, May 18, 2020

Medical workers in Ukraine are struggling in the battle against the coronavirus. Doctors have said they are being left with substandard equipment, drug shortages and low wages.

This comes after Ukraine’s former administration previously crippled the country’s health care system by cutting subsidies to help cover wages and hospital bills. President Volodymyr Zelensky has reportedly taken action towards offering new subsidies to increase medic wages.

A number of health workers have fallen ill and some have reportedly died as protective equipment is running short. Many people are blaming the hospital conditions on corruption.

In this photo taken on Sunday, May 10, 2020, Dr. Olha Kobevko, left, fills in daily medical documents at the regional hospital in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. The hospital lacks a centralized oxygen supply and has to rely mostly on refillable oxygen masks, reflecting a pitiful state of Ukraine’s underfunded health care system that was quickly overwhelmed by the coronavirus even with a relatively low number of infections. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

“To say there is no virus is to say there is no war in Ukraine because you can’t see it, but it’s there even if you don’t believe it,” stated Dr. Olha Kobevko, an infectious disease specialist in Chernivtsi. “It’s here inside, you can see it when you bury the dead.”

Medical workers account for roughly one-fifth of coronavirus cases in Ukraine. The government relaxed lockdown measures last week, which has sparked concerns over a second wave of infections.

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