A. Dulkys assesses Ukraine's lessons and answers what Lithuania is ready for and to what extent

There is a growing discussion on how our country would cope with the possible hardships of war. „Lithuania Direct“ talks to Health Minister Arūnas Dulkys about whether Lithuania's healthcare system is sufficiently prepared for possible emergencies.

Asked whether Lithuania's health system would be able to withstand a similar blow to that suffered by Ukraine on 24 February, Arūnas Dulkys said that we should still look for international partners.<br>G.Bitvinsko nuotr.
Asked whether Lithuania's health system would be able to withstand a similar blow to that suffered by Ukraine on 24 February, Arūnas Dulkys said that we should still look for international partners.<br>G.Bitvinsko nuotr.
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Lrytas.lt

Apr 28, 2022, 3:49 PM, atnaujinta Apr 28, 2022, 3:50 PM

Although as of 1 May. It is easy to recall how the last quarantines shut down parts of the public sector. One of the reasons for such decisions was to prevent an overburdened health system.

Asked whether Lithuania's health system would be able to withstand a similar blow to that suffered by Ukraine on 24 February, Arūnas Dulkys said that we should still look for international partners.

„It seems to me that first of all, we should assess, and Ukraine seems to be the lesson now, which countries we should cooperate with in terms of patient admissions, taking into account the size of Lithuania and the size of Ukraine. (...)

For Lithuania, some of the lessons should be about with whom Lithuania should cooperate internationally to prepare for such situations, and not only on the territory of Lithuania. Lithuania's territory is too small for the size of such an analogous military action“, said the Minister of Health.

However, the Minister said that Ukraine itself is managing the number of wounded so far without major problems, while only 100 civilians have been transported to other European countries for treatment.

„Today, the Ukrainian health system is coping with its wounded soldiers. Even though we have been very agitated here in all the neighbouring countries, we have set up a mechanism and so on. But so far, realistically, even civilian wounded patients have been brought to Europe, about 100. Poland is fully coping (...), and the soldiers are being dealt with on the ground,“ Dulkys said.

Two months after the start of the war, Lithuania has already applied some of Ukraine's experience, the Health Minister said. One of them is the reserve of medicines.

„The first lessons from Ukraine are about the same medicines. We have (stockpiles), which we have now shared with Ukraine, so we are rebuilding our stockpiles accordingly.

A very important message where Ukraine has learned a lesson is that the stock of medicines is moved through pharmacies in many cases. The pharmacies were, in many cases, private, so there were no stocks in the country's pharmacies. When hostilities broke out, there was a situation in some cities where the logistics chains did not have the capacity to deliver the medicines, and the stocks were already running out locally.

The message here is that every medical institution, every pharmacy, must nevertheless have its own reserve. We used to have a procedure for a month's supply, now we are assessing, we are looking at 2-3 months, and now all the treatment facilities are doing that,“ the Minister said about the changes.

Dulkys said that in case of war, good coordination would be particularly important, especially with non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

„It is very important to coordinate with NGOs. There have been situations when people, wanting to do good, together with NGOs, have swept up medicines in some cities and regions and delivered them to the Ministry of Health (...).

In the end, the Ministry of Health had to return these medicines to the same cities because there was a problem there – people could no longer find the medicines“, he said.

Members of the Parliament's Health Affairs Committee have said off the record that in an emergency, the Lithuanian health system would be ill-prepared, lacking even the most basic supplies. However, the Minister denied such rumours and said that we were able to share some of our reserves with war-torn Ukraine.

„It is not for nothing that they apparently spoke informally because one of the other lessons we have to learn from the same Israel and Ukraine is not to talk about certain things in public and spread panic. (...)

The fact is that in Lithuania, the situation with the reserves of medicines and equipment was such that we were able to share even 20% of our state reserves with Ukraine. What we shared included medicines, antibiotics, and medicines specifically for chemical attacks, splints, bandages, etc. We had them, and they were sent out in the very first days,“ the Minister reassured.

„The fact is that (...) some of the lists were outdated, and we saw that some things needed to be different, according to what Ukraine asked for. We felt that we needed more of something and less of something. This was a great lesson and a message on what should be done for the future and how to update the lists“, added Dulkys.

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