Today, the Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, is in Poland to officially open the new EU Medevac Hub for medical evacuations of Ukrainian patients together with Ministers of Health from Poland and Ukraine. The hub is strategically located near the Polish city of Rzeszów, which hosts one of the closest airports to Ukraine.
The new EU Medevac Hub, financed through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, is part of a broader medical evacuation scheme launched by the European Union in March 2022.
The Hub will offer a safe space for the patients arriving from Ukraine before they will be flown out to receive treatment in a hospital in another European country. At the hub, the patients will be granted 24/7 nursing care, screening for diseases, vaccination and mental health support. It is also designed to facilitate the work of medical personnel as they tend for vulnerable patients arriving from Ukraine.
The medical evacuation scheme includes 2 medevac flights a week, offered by Norway, and transporting patients from Rzeszów to countries offering onward treatment.
Commissioner Lenarčič said: “The number of wounded people in Ukraine grows every day, and hospitals already short in supplies are struggling to keep up with the needs. At the same time, the destruction of healthcare facilities deprives chronically ill patients of the treatment they need to survive. We cannot abandon these people. In response, the EU steps up its medical evacuation operations of Ukrainian patients with a new hub near Rzeszow, Poland. The Medevac hub will play a key role in transferring the patients swiftly to hospitals across Europe. I want to thank all countries who have offered to accept the patients from Ukraine and help save their lives. This is a true example of EU solidarity.”
The ongoing war is severely restraining emergency healthcare in Ukraine, while refugee inflow has put hospitals in neighbouring countries under strain. To relieve the pressure on health systems in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, and Slovakia, the EU started coordinating patient transfers via its Civil Protection Mechanism to hospitals across Europe.
Since 11 March, 1,143 Ukrainian patients in need of medical evacuation have been transferred to 18 European countries, including Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Romania, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway, Lithuania, Finland, Poland and the Czech Republic.
The Medevac Hub will also benefit from World Health Organization and International Organization for Migration input.
Since Russia's invasion, the European Commission has set up a standard operating procedure for the medical evacuation of displaced people from Ukraine in need of medical care. These evacuation operations are coordinated via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and are supported by the new rescEU medical evacuation plane, financed by the EU and hosted by Norway. For a secure transfer of patient data, the patients' health records are shared using the Early Warning and Response System.
Via its Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU has coordinated significant deliveries of medicines and medical equipment to Ukraine. Between March and August 2022, the EU has also delivered assistance from its rescEU medical stockpiles and organised rescEU mobilisations from the private sector reserve. Items delivered included medicines, medical equipment, personal protective equipment and hand sanitisers, as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) medical countermeasures, equipment, and supplies.
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