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After One Year, More than 300,000 Ukrainians in Poland Received Funds For Medical Costs


Ukraine Relief

U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski at the Museum of the City of Lodz, Poland on May 10, 2023, to discuss Health4Ukraine, a collaborative program involving Pelion S.A. and Direct Relief.

LODZ, POLAND – Health4Ukraine resulted in 316,894 Ukrainian refugees in Poland receiving funds for medications and other pharmacy purchases in the past year – one of many outcomes shared today at an event in Lodz, Poland, which included U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski, Pelion S.A. CEO Jacek Szwajcowski, Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe, and representatives of the Embassy of Ukraine, among others.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to Pelion and Direct Relief for launching the Health4Ukraine initiative,” said Ambassador Brzezinski. “As we gather here today, we celebrate the tireless efforts and dedication of all the individuals and organizations involved in this noble cause through their unwavering commitment to alleviate suffering and providing aid to those in need. They have shown that when we come together as a global community, we can overcome even the most significant challenges.”

Health4Ukraine received 15 million USD in funding from Direct Relief last year.

“This highly efficient program, which puts a layer of innovation on top of existing systems, personnel and logistical infrastructure, allowed us to provide tailored assistance to meet the medical needs of every refugee covered by the program, no matter where in Poland they are,” said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief.

When the bombing of the Dnieper started, I realized that the war was very close. The second reason for leaving was that I have no thyroid — I take hormones permanently. I literally had only a few pills left, and the pharmacies were empty.

People were buying up all drugs. I knew I simply wouldn’t survive. My organs would slowly begin to die. It wouldn’t happen overnight, but there would be no turning back. Either I would die because I didn’t have the medication, or a bomb would just fall…

And then I decided to leave. I was exhausted. If I had the medicine, I probably wouldn’t have left. But I wanted to save my life. When we arrived, I had a few hryvnias on me. I had no money, and I needed the medicine. I have hypertension and high blood sugar, I need thyroid medication, and the treatment costs a lot.

Svitlana, A Participant in the Health4Ukraine program

Other funders included the Polish Red Cross, ING for Children Foundation, Deloitte Foundation Poland, Bristol Myers Squibb, and LOGEX.

“At Pelion, we got involved in helping immediately,” said Jacek Szwajcowski, CEO of Pelion S.A. “We didn’t have a second thought. From the first day refugees started showing up in our country, we knew we wanted to help them, as strongly as we could. And preferably together with others who have the same goal. We ended up with the best partners we could think of. It is a phenomenon on a global scale that we are able to account for such a large aid campaign to every cent donated, indicating to whom, when and for what the amount was transferred.”

Since its launch in April 2022, the program supported 316,894 Ukrainian refugees in Poland with more than 17 million USD (70,706,000 PLN).

Nearly 70% of the funds were used to purchase medicine. The remaining purchases included personal care products such as dental hygiene and soap.

Source: epruf

Women and children comprised most fund recipients (92%), with ages ranging from as young as five days up to 97 years.

Source: epruf

An analysis by epruf found that demand for prescription medications varied according to age, with children mostly requiring medications for temporary use like anti-infectives (32%) and respiratory therapies (30%).

Women aged 55 or younger were more likely to purchase medications for the digestive tract and metabolism (15%) and the genitourinary system and hormones (13%). In comparison, men in the same age group mainly required digestive system and metabolism (22%) and cardiovascular (16%) medications.

Older patients tended to buy medications for chronic illnesses, with cardiovascular drugs (34%) being the dominating category for men and women aged 55 or older, followed by prescriptions for the digestive system and metabolism (18%).

“Most people thought we were fine, but the stress and what we experienced… People have nothing when they arrive here. We travelled without anything, we had a backpack with some stuff and some money. And that was it.

I found out about the programme while I was in Wrocław. The foundation for autistic children told us that there was a registration process, where you needed to fill out an application and wait for a message with a code for the purchase of prescription and non-prescription drugs, which is sent to our email.

I received help, which was very useful for me, because my son came down with the flu and I had hypertension. I had never experienced such problems before. I thought the pressure of the situation wouldn’t change it, but we could feel the stress.”

Anna, a participant of the Health4Ukraine program

Health4Ukraine also includes free online medical consultations for Ukrainian refugees provided by doctors of the Dimedic Clinic, one of the largest telemedicine clinics in Poland. Thanks to $1 million in funding provided by Pelion, Dimedic doctors have helped more than 30,000 patients, including prescription renewals for chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension).

“In addition to providing information, we tried to provide emotional support to the participants of the program,” said Olena Sydoruk, Health4Ukraine, Hotline consultant. “We intuitively knew they needed it. In my opinion, the Health4Ukraine hotline played an important role as a link between the organizer and the Participants. We received valuable feedback from them about the initiative, which helped us optimize the program and make it even better.”

Editor’s note: Since the war began in 2022, Direct Relief has deployed more than 1,350 tons of medical aid, 254.1 million defined daily doses, $32.2 million in financial assistance, and $899 million in material aid assistance to Ukraine.

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