Wars and kidney patients: a statement by the European Kidney Health Alliance related to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict

Wars have a serious impact on the life of all diseased people by destroying infrastructure and interfering with possibilities to gain access to life-saving therapies. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict is particularly worrying for the kidney community, which requires continuous access to haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and a broad array of therapeutics. Kidney patients in and/or fleeing Ukraine are among the most vulnerable individuals to suffer from the war. The kidney patient community requests that the continuity of access to dialysis, transplantation and healthcare is preserved, in Ukraine and surrounding countries.

Furthermore, it is very likely that nephrologists in Ukraine and in the neighbouring countries are experiencing extreme difficulties. During mass disasters, nephologists are faced with the responsibility of treating high numbers of patients, collaborate with a broad team of other health personnel, and are frequently consulted by other specialists, which considerably increases their workload. Burnout is common during wars, increasing the drop-out rates of nephrology professionals, which worsens the healthcare burden.

The was in Ukraine shows that the current kidney dialysis concept is extremely vulnerable to mass disasters. The kidney community urgently needs a shift to more early screening, prevention, and transplantation. A greater focus on home-based systems may be more protective for patients by avoiding having to travel to cities that are usually prime targets in war.

The European Union has stressed the need for more resilient and flexible health care systems in disastrous circumstances such as COVID-19, but the Ukrainian war underscores that similar concepts must be extended to many other disasters.

Read EKHA’s statement in full here.