365th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – An Inside View from Olena Riga

365th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – An Inside View from Olena Riga

One year of Russian aggression against Ukraine and people have been dying every day.

What has happened in a year?

This past year has meant that we look at our world from different perspectives.

In the past 365 days, my country has gained a powerful army, heroes and a courageous, persistent, consolidated people – the Ukrainian people. Our society has turned into a huge number of volunteer organisations to support the army and vulnerable groups within the population.

In the past 365 days we have gained unprecedented support in the world from many countries, not only in the military sector, but also in the humanitarian one. We had the opportunity to evacuate seriously ill patients and children, including those with cancer to the best clinics in the world, we received medical equipment, nutrition, generators and essentials. We have made many friends among different countries and international organisations who have stood up for our sovereignty and helped to advocate for us.

In the past 365 days we have gained an understanding of how the world works. Every Ukrainian still worries about his/her life and the lives of his loved ones. Every Ukrainian wants to bring victory closer and as soon as possible. But the world turned out to be somewhat slower than the desire of the Ukrainians. This is the essence of the wheel of history.

In the past 365 days, we have seen the military crimes of Russia. These 365 days showed extraordinary brutality in the 21st century. Russia forcibly deported thousands of Ukrainian families with children, separated children from their families, placing them in separate camps. They have killed our children, and even those not yet born in the womb, shelling hospitals and maternity hospitals. Numerous atrocities have been conducted – we still have a lot to learn.

Despite the fact that before the war we were at the beginning of the path in organising and creating palliative care for our children, it was the war that showed us what we lacked:

  • Lack of psychological support
  • Deficiency of bereavement support and services for the end of life
  • Telehealth and other communication points
  • Knowledge
  • Coordination
  • Information in communities
  • Lack of adequate social assistance
  • We were not prepared for a crisis and had a large number of refugees among the staff

Currently, the Ministry of Health is proposing to create focal points for palliative care in each region and there is an understanding of networking. However, most importantly, we are waiting for the Victory of Ukraine in 2023, together with the world. There will be thousands of disabled men coming from the frontline. Thousands of children will have post-traumatic stress syndrome. There are many challenges ahead. Much will need to be done and created in the field of palliative care. But it will be after the war is over. It will be after the victory.

Now we are saying words of gratitude to everyone for the support of Ukraine and hand in hand we are moving towards Victory!


Olena Riga – Professor, Center for Palliative Medicine, Kharkiv National Medical University