International Family Medicine Clinic for Refugees in Uzhhorod (Ukraine): Our Path

Only 6 months ago, such concepts as Russian aggression against Ukraine, thousands of  Ukrainian civilians killed  by the rocket attacks, refugees, migrants and international solidarity with Ukraine was not  known in  everyday life. 6 months… and so much has happened.

Since the beginning of Russia’s full scale aggression against Ukraine,  when the governments of different levels were not sure what to do and where they will be the next day of the war , when Kiev was on the edge of the capture, when millions of people from Eastern and Southern Ukraine  fled through the borders ( including Ukrainian-Slovakia border) trying to save themselves in other countries of the world, it was our  personal initiative with my wife, also a doctor, to find our right place in this chaos .Simply we could not sit without doing nothing. We started with selecting and distributing the medications that fled to Ukraine as humanitarian aid from all over the world. Soon we were joined by a group of our residents, students ( I am a University  Assistant Professor) and family doctors-refugees from the ruined parts of Ukraine. At that time  working in shifts we could provide systematic medical service 24/7 on the border checkpoints, railway stations of Uzhhorod and Chop. Soon we organized the first Volunteer medical center in Owl’s Nest (the Centre of Humanitarian Aid), then in the Rehabilitation Medical Clinic for Children and  in shelters which accommodated the refugees and later in a larger and more comfortable location on Pidgirna street. Thanks to my numerous international connections, I arranged humanitarian supplies of scarce medicines and materials from abroad to Ukraine. When the shelves of the local pharmacies were practically empty, dozens of my international colleagues as volunteers carried medications and instruments by their cars to Uzhhorod and we distributed the received medical donations all over Ukraine.

Now after six months of the war we understand the urgent need for health services to the IDPs, most of whom are elderly, women, and children who have lost homes and income, and sometimes everything.

Thanks to my former professional connections and popularity in the international medical circles, we managed to get the necessary financial support from numerous medical organizations around the world to implement a project of creating an International Family Medicine Clinic for refugees in Uzhhorod. It is difficult to believe now, but it took us a little bit more than three months to complete this ambitious Project. 0n 23 of September 2022 (exactly seven months since the beginning of Russia’s aggression , and this is very symbolic!) we’ll have a Grand opening of the Clinic. This is one of a few peaceful projects in Ukraine being implemented during the war in such a short period of time. In addition, this Clinic is very special for Uzhhorod because it is dedicated for refugees and is to give them free medical services. Now that due to the refugees the population of Uzhhorod has increased from 100 000 to 160 000, neither of the local clinics is ready to provide free medical service to the refugees. Besides, the specificity of the clinic is that it combines medical care with medical education for the students and residents aimed at family medicine. At last but that is not the least, the Clinic is to provide opportunities to employ  volunteers: displaced doctors and nurses from ruined or occupied areas. Being built by means of international donations, we believe that the Clinic will also become popular among the invited international specialists who may want to come working  temporarily in our Clinic or to provide training and lectures. Our Clinic will also provide education for patients. The very fact that the Clinic is about to start working was thanks to your permanent help!   

Unfortunately, according to Ukrainian regulations during the war time within the coming 6 months the assigned patient’s law will not be financed and during this time we won’t be able to function as a profit sustainable organization. It means that we’ll have to survive during the coming 6 months, the cost of which will be about Euro 4 000.00 per month.
Welcome to the International Family Medicine Clinic in Uzhhorod (Ukraine) !

Pavlo Kolesnyk MD PhD
Assistant Professor, Head of Family Medicine and Outpatient Care Department of Uzhgorod National University,
Head of International Department of Ukrainian Association of Family Medicine