Diabetes  Care


The day Russia invaded Ukraine was the start of another fight for a child's life.

When one-year-old Polina from Kyiv visited her family in Mariupol, she became very ill with Type 1 diabetes.  On the morning of Feb. 24, 2022, she arrived by ambulance at the Ohmatdyt National Specialized Children’s Hospital. 

Her body had lost its ability to produce the insulin cells needed to turn glucose into energy. She will spend the rest of her life dependent on insulin injections – regardless of the war’s outcome.

- Dr. Nataliya Pogadayeva, head of the pediatric endocrinology department at Ohmatdyt


“When the war began, all of the logistics were broken, the pharmacies were closed, many pharmacy staff fled with their children, and we only took emergency cases.” 

Direct Relief started to hear reports of critical shortages of insulin, the drug that people with Type 1 diabetes must inject daily to keep their bodies functioning. It was estimated that 2.3 million people were living with diabetes in Ukraine in February 2022, of which 230,000 received insulin for treatment.

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2.1 million pens, cartridges, or vials of insulin

3.4 million needles and syringes

Through Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and on-the-ground charities, Direct Relief has provided hospitals and clinics across Ukraine treating people with diabetes, including this children’s hospital in Kyiv, with:

4.1 million blood glucose testing strips


By the summer of 2022, the insulin supply was back to pre-war benchmarks, partly due to large humanitarian aid donations, with 2,000 pharmacies prescribing 47 different kinds of insulin.

Direct Relief also granted $150,000 to the Ukrainian Diabetes Federation to help start a National Diabetes Program, which is mobilizing staff and volunteers to distribute supplies and expand diabetes education efforts, as well as working on prevention and the collection of reliable statistics.

Polina visited the hospital again on June 22, her second birthday. Dr. Pogadayeva said in July that the child’s diabetes is under control; she is in a good mood and talkative, like many children of her age. “There are no words about war or illness in her vocabulary,” she said. “She perceives the disease as a way of life and probably doesn’t know yet that things can be different.”