Vets mobilise to help Ukraine medical supply crisis
A second-generation Ukrainian veterinarian in Britain has set up a group to organise the transport of medical supplies to the war-torn country.
Manchester RSPCA veterinarian Dr Antonina Babchuk started the Facebook group British Veterinary Professionals for Ukraine after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Its aim is to organise and distribute donations of medicine and medical supplies to the Ukrainian front line.
Despite being in operation since only March 1, there are already more than 1,300 members. Babchuk started the group after seeing that the Ukrainian Medical Association (UMA) was calling for medical supplies, and thought that veterinarians would be able to help..
She said: “I am a second-generation Ukrainian, but I still have a lot of family in western Ukraine and close friends too who are dealing with air raids and watching as Russian missiles fly over their heads.
“So when I see what is happening out there, I feel emotions that I have never experienced before – emotions that I would never wish anyone to have to experience ever.
“The only way I can describe it is pure heartbreak, where you just feel empty and sad and helpless to the core.
“But I didn’t want to feel helpless and powerless – I wanted to do something, and when I saw that the Ukrainian Medical Association (UMA) was calling for medical supplies I knew that as a vet I could help and my colleagues across the UK could help, too.”
Several veterinary schools including the Royal Veterinary College are also helping out as drop-off points for supplies, which are being collected by the UMA.
‘Outpouring of support’
Practices large and small have already been donating supplies while the RVC and the Universities of Nottingham, Surrey and Bristol are now accepting donations – which include orthopaedic implants, chest drains and drills.
While the current focus is on emergency and critical care supplies, the operation is being geared up for the long haul as the needs of Ukraine change during the course of the bloody conflict.
Dr Babchuk added: : “I realised a lot of the items they need are used by vets every day like tranexamic acid, various antibiotics and ofloxacin eye drops, and I thought ‘Why are we waiting for the government to do this? We have the capacity; we have these’.
“So I started the Facebook group to share the list, and in just a few days we’ve been inundated with offers of help, and we get more every hour – it has been truly humbling.
“The one thing that has kept me going is the absolute outpouring of support and generosity from the UK profession.
“Even if one person or practice can only donate a little, it doesn’t matter as it all adds up and together we can make a massive difference. We can’t wait for governments – why should we wait for them to lead the way? We can lead the way. We can help so many species as vets and now is the time to add humans to that list.
“Let’s do something – let’s not sit here helplessly.”
For more information on the supplies needed and to join the British Veterinary Professionals for Ukraine group, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/britishvetsforukraine or scan the QR code.