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Hero Health Workers Care for Babies Born Under Siege in Ukraine

April 6, 2022

More than a month into the war in Ukraine, fighting and indiscriminate attacks continue to devastate urban areas.

 

Dr. Iryna Kondratova, head of the Regional Perinatal Center in Kharkiv, is working tirelessly to care for pregnant women, mothers and newborns, despite the risks she and her team face every day.

 

When the shelling began, the team set up a new labor room in the low-ceilinged basement of the hospital where mothers can give birth. As the days passed, they fell into a rhythym, timing medical procedures between air raids. 

 

"The fear we all had during the first days has now turned into an irrepressible desire to do our work in the best way possible, despite everything," says Dr. Kondratova.

 

Caring for the tiniest, most fragile babies under artillery fire

 

Dr. Kondratova describes the dedication and commitment of the center's staff. Even as air raid sirens sound in the background, they remain in the intensive care ward with the tiniest, most vulnerable babies, who cannot be moved to the basement because they rely on lifesaving equipment.

 

"We are risking our lives," she says. "We love these children; we have to help these newborns. We are ready to do our work under any circumstances ... Our team made a decision that we would stay here with them under fire." 

 

Since the start of the war, UNICEF has delivered medical supplies to 49 hospitals in nine regions across Ukraine — including oxygen concentrators and ready-to-use midwifery and surgical kits — improving access to health care for 500,000 mothers, newborns and children caught in the conflict.

 

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Top photo: Despite ongoing shelling, Dr. Iryna Kondratova, head of the Regional Perinatal Center in Kharkiv, Ukraine and her team are working tirelessly to care for newborns and their mothers. "We love these children. We have to help these newborns," she says. "We are ready to do our work under any circumstances." UNICEF has delivered medical supplies to 49 hospitals in nine regions across Ukraine. © UNICEF. Video edited by Tong Su for UNICEF USA