Russian Missile Attack on Ukraine’s Largest Hospital Complicates Treatment of Kids With Cancer

File photo: A general view shows a shopping mall heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine December 29, 2023. (Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk region/Handout via Reuters)
File photo: A general view shows a shopping mall heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine December 29, 2023. (Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk region/Handout via Reuters)
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Russian Missile Attack on Ukraine’s Largest Hospital Complicates Treatment of Kids With Cancer

File photo: A general view shows a shopping mall heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine December 29, 2023. (Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk region/Handout via Reuters)
File photo: A general view shows a shopping mall heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Dnipro, Ukraine December 29, 2023. (Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk region/Handout via Reuters)

The National Cancer Institute in Kyiv was busier than usual after a Russian missile struck Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital this week, forcing the evacuation of dozens of its young patients battling cancer.
Russia’s heaviest bombardment of the Ukrainian capital in four months severely damaged Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital on Monday, terrorizing families and severely impacting their children already battling life-threatening diseases, The Associated Press said.
Now, some families face a dilemma of where to continue their children's treatment.
Oksana Halak only learned about her 2-year-old son Dmytro’s diagnosis — acute lymphoblastic leukemia — at the beginning of June. She immediately decided to have him treated at Okhmatdyt, “because it is one of the best hospitals in Europe.”
She and Dmytro were in the hospital for his treatment when sirens blared across the city. They couldn’t run to the shelter as the little boy was on an IV. “It is vitally important not to interrupt these IVs,” Halak said.
After the first explosions, nurses helped move them to another room without windows, which was safer.
“We felt a powerful blast wave. We felt the room shaking and the lights went out,” she recalled. “We understood that it was nearby, but we didn’t think it was at Okhmatdyt.”
Shortly after that, they were evacuated to the National Cancer Institute, and now Dmytro is one of 31 patients who, amid a difficult fight with cancer, have to adapt to a new hospital. With their arrival, the number of children being treated for cancer there has doubled.
Dmytro and the other patients were offered evacuation to hospitals abroad, and Halak wants his further treatment to be in Germany.
“We understand that with our situation, we cannot receive the help we should be getting, and we are forced to apply for evacuation abroad,” she said.
Other hospitals in the city that took in children for treatment faced a similar overcrowding situation after the shutdown of Okhmatdyt, where hundreds of children were being treated at the time of the attack.
“The destroyed Okhmatdyt is the pain of the entire nation,” said the director general of the National Cancer Institute, Olena Yefimenko.
Almost immediately after the attack, messages began circulating on social media networks to raise money for the hospital's restoration. Many parents whose children were treated there wrote messages of gratitude, saying their children survived due to the hospital's care despite difficult diagnoses. In just three days, Ukrainians and private businesses raised more than $7.3 million through the national fundraising platform UNITED24.
Work to rebuild the hospital is already underway. Okhmatdyt doctors balance their duties treating their young evacuated patients while working to get the children's hospital reopened. But even with resources and determination, that may take months.
Even so, Yuliia Vasylenko has already decided that her 11-year-old son, Denys, will remain in Kyiv for his cancer treatment.
The day of the attack the boy, diagnosed with multiple spinal cord tumors, was supposed to start chemotherapy. The strike delayed his treatment indefinitely, and Denys has to undergo additional examinations and tests, his mother said.
Denys was very scared during the strike, said his mother as she wheeled him around the National Cancer Institute in a wheelchair.
“The last days felt like an eternity," she said. Only now are they slowly recovering from the stress.
“If we go somewhere, with our diagnosis, we would have to retake all the tests from the beginning,” she said, adding that this could take three to four months.
“And we don’t know if we have that time,” she said.



Drive to End Global Hunger Has Stalled, United Nations Warns

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
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Drive to End Global Hunger Has Stalled, United Nations Warns

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve, with the number of people suffering chronic hunger barely changed over the past year, a UN report said on Wednesday.

The annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report said around 733 million people faced hunger in 2023 -- one in 11 people globally and one in five in Africa -- as conflict, climate change and economic crises take their toll.

David Laborde, director of the division within the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which helps prepare the survey, said that although progress had been made in some regions, the situation had deteriorated at a global level.

"We are in a worse situation today than nine years ago when we launched this goal to eradicate hunger by 2030," he told Reuters, saying challenges such as climate change and regional wars had grown more severe than envisaged even a decade ago.

If current trends continue, about 582 million people will be chronically undernourished at the end of the decade, half of them in Africa, the report warned.

A broader objective to ensure regular access to adequate food has also stalled over the past three years, with 29% of the global population, or 2.33 billion people, experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in 2023.

Underscoring stark inequalities, some 71.5% of people in low-income countries could not afford a healthy diet last year, against 6.3% in high-income countries.

While famines are easy to spot, poor nutrition is more insidious but can nonetheless scar people for life, stunting both the physical and mental development of babies and children, and leaving adults more vulnerable to infections and illnesses.

Laborde said international aid linked to food security and nutrition amounted to $76 billion a year, or 0.07% of the world's total annual economic output.

"I think we can do better to deliver this promise about living on a planet where no one is hungry," he said.

Regional trends varied significantly, with hunger continuing to rise in Africa, where growing populations, myriad wars and climate upheaval weighed heavily. By contrast, Asia has seen little change and Latin America has improved.

"South America has very developed social protection programs that allows them to target interventions so they can effectively move out of hunger in a very fast way," said FAO's chief economist Maximo Torero.

"In the case of Africa, we have not observed that."

The United Nations said the way the anti-hunger drive was financed had to change, with greater flexibility needed to ensure the countries most in need got help.

"We need to change how we do things to be better coordinated, to accept that not everyone should try to do everything but really be much more focused on what we are doing and where," said Laborde.

The report is compiled by the Rome-based FAO, the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development, its Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization and World Food Program.