Russia has bombed a maternity unit in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, killing a newborn baby, governor Oleksandr Starukh has said. Meanwhile Dr Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Europe has warned the country’s health system is facing its “darkest days” since the start of the war on February 24.
Mr Starukh, writing on the Telegram instant messaging service, said: “At night, Russian monsters fired huge rockets at the small maternity ward of Vilnianska Hospital.
“Grief fills our hearts – a baby who has just appeared in the world has been killed.
“Rescuers are working on the spot. Death to the Rashists!”
“The UK is exploring more support for Ukraine to defend against airstrikes and we will hold Putin to account for his terrible crimes.”
In a statement delivered yesterday during a visit to Kyiv, Dr Kluge said: “WHO has so far verified 703 attacks on health since the war began 9 months ago. This is a breach of international humanitarian law and the rules of war.
“Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and healthcare facilities are no longer fully operational – lacking fuel, water and electricity to meet basic needs.
“Maternity wards need incubators; blood banks need refrigerators; intensive care beds need ventilators; and all require energy.”
Ukraine’s health system was being impacted in less direct, but equally deadly ways, Dr Kluge stressed.
He said: “What we know is that hundreds of thousands of premises across the country – including private homes, schools and hospitals – have no gas supplies, essential not only for cooking but also for heating.”
At present some 10 million people – a quarter of Ukraine’s population – were without power, he pointed out.
He added: “Cold weather can kill. Temperatures are predicted to plummet as low as -20C in parts of the country.
“As desperate families try to stay warm, many will be forced to turn to alternative heating methods, like burning charcoal or wood, or using generators fuelled by diesel, or electric heaters.
“These bring health risks, including exposure to toxic substances that are harmful for children, older people and those with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, as well as accidental burns and injuries.”