March 2023 | Exhibition

Ukraine's healthcare system under siege during Russian invasion

March 4 - April 7, 2023

Ghost Hospitals. The damaged building of the regional clinical trauma hospital after the Russian shelling. Lyman, Donetsk region (April 2022), photo by Uliana Kashchii, MD

In terms of destruction, war is similar to a disaster in that it lasts long and requires a lot of resources. But unlike natural disasters, war is not an accident - invaders have the intention to destroy, kill and control. The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine targets not only military objects but also civilian infrastructure: energy and water supply facilities, and housing blocks. The fact that medical institutions are also the target of the Russian army violates International Humanitarian Law as well.

People Become Numbers. Doctors write patient data and examinations right on the patient's body because of the large number of unknown unconscious patients. Kyiv City Clinical Hospital #17 (March 9th, 2022), photo by Uliana Minaieva, MD

The medical system in Ukraine was forced to change gradually during the past nine years of the Russian-Ukrainian war. This allowed it to adapt in February 2022, when the full-scale war began, and provide patients with necessary medical care. Nonetheless, it faces many problems caused by constant shelling, the intended destruction of critical infrastructure and a shortage of resources as well as the intended murder, abduction and hostage-taking of health personnel and patients.

A Red Cross Does Not Offer Protection. Burned ambulance as a result of the bombing of the Lysychansk city municipal hospital. Lysychansk, Luhansk region (June 2022), photo by Oleksandr Sokolenko, MD

This exhibition documents the daily life and difficulties of Ukrainian healthcare institutions, the depth of destruction, and the extreme efforts to save patient lives and health.

Most of these photos are taken with smartphone cameras by medical staff between February 2022-January 2023. Every picture has a story, and even though doctors deal with death and hope almost every day, these stories prompted them to take out their phones and capture these moments. Some of the photos may be shocking, however, we believe that it is impossible to show the truth about violence without showing the consequences of that violence. Since the aim of the exhibition is to show the reality in which the Ukrainian healthcare system exists now, removing the blood from the photos would be turning a blind eye to the crimes committed by Russia.

Maternity Under Bombing. A woman is giving birth in the corridor during an air raid in Chernihiv. “Two walls rule” - if there is no shelter, hide in a room with two walls but no windows. Municipal maternity hospital of Chernihiv City (February 27th, 2022), photo by Tetiana Holota, MD
Unknown #1. Due to the absence of information about the patient and the military principles, the wounded boy was registered as ‘Unknown #1’. As it was disclosed later, the wounded child was found by the military in a shot car together with his dead parents. The boy died at the hospital on March 1st, 2022. National Children’s Specialized Hospital OHMATDYT, Kyiv (February 25th, 2022), photo by Olena Nesterenko, MD

Bruce Osborn (Exhibition Chair) & Peter Lyon (Co-Chair)