friends for lifeWhile far from flawless, Ukraine’s medical and public health systems prior to the war ranked among the best in Eastern Europe. As our HUG team describes in a prescient opinion piece, Russia has deliberately targeted the Ukrainian healthcare system, its medical professionals, and the patients under their care. These acts, like many of the lawless, inhumane atrocities of the Russian Army will result in an ongoing, continuum of pain and death for Ukrainians. These tactics are a textbook example of a phenomenon known colloquially in disaster medicine as the “killing twice effect” – namely, the rise of morbidity and mortality that continues for years following the wreckage of local hospitals and loss of healthcare workers due to natural or, as in this case, manmade disasters resulting in an expansion of illness and death long after the final missiles are fired.

HUG educational services are designed to reverse this impact now and in the future.

Our initiatives, programming, and objectives focus on enhancing and expanding delivery of acute care under the dire circumstances while we simultaneously help to rejuvenate and improve long-term medical delivery. We strive to not only repair and rebuild but revive and revitalize. Through deliberate, collaborative measures with partners in the U.S. and Ukraine, our committed faculty aspire to, and will achieve, advancement of healthcare provision throughout Ukraine for decades beyond this cruel and senseless war.

GMKA Partnership – HUG’s partnership with GMKA, a 501c3, facilitates the creation of evidence-based educational materials for physicians and patients that are written and vetted by experts in the fields of trauma, surgery, emergency medicine, and oncology. While the work of GMKA pre-dated the war, the shift since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has been to focus predominately on medical relief efforts. GMKA develops and distributes educational materials in the Ukrainian language that are most needed by patients and professionals in this time of crisis. Stop the Bleed is an excellent example of a video, made in the U.S. and then disseminated in Ukraine, that is applicable for both civilians and healthcare providers.

Transplant surgeons arriveMedical Scholars At Risk – “Bringing it Back to Ukraine”: Through a unique partnership, HUG and the Harvard Scholars at Risk (SAR) program led by Jane Unrue and supported by the Offices of the President and Provost at Harvard University, have established an innovative initiative to sponsor medical practitioners from Ukrainian academic institutions who develop transferrable skills via observerships at Harvard-affiliated hospitals.

Each invited scholar studies at a hospital for up to 6 months in a specific area of inquiry that addresses educational requirements abruptly terminated by the invasion of Ukraine and/or advances knowledge of and capacity for improved delivery of medical care and services in their country. The aim is to provide learning that helps in the acute circumstances of an unprovoked war against their sovereign nation and simultaneously offers enduring skills that carry the promise to expand and advance medical care in times of peace.

Candidates are vetted and selected by HUG members from Harvard Medical School (HMS) including Drs. Melnitchouk, Hart and Poznansky in consultation with Harvard SAR associates and Ukrainian clinicians affiliated with hospitals and the Ministry of Health (MOH). Those chosen for participation — based on qualifications, defined need of advancement in a given area of medicine, capacity to spread the newly acquired knowledge and skills, and other criteria like English proficiency — are paired with committed mentors and supervisors within the Harvard medical and science faculty who have expertise in the identified topic and ability to fill the gap for Ukrainian colleagues.

The overarching objective of this initiative, paralleling goals eloquently expressed by President Zelenskyy when recently addressing academicians, is to bring the teachings and newly developed skills back to Ukraine in order to foster regeneration and expansion of medical infrastructure and healthcare delivery. Metrics of success involve the progress of participating Ukrainian physicians to impact and improve the practice of medicine in Ukraine. HUG’s goal in conceptualizing and designing this initiative is to revive and revitalize, not simply repair and rebuild, medical infrastructure and delivery of care in Ukraine.

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