By Scott J. Becker, APHL CEO
I write to you today not about a public health or laboratory science and practice issue, but about a humanitarian one. As I watch the situation unfold in Ukraine, I can’t help but think of the many APHL partners there with whom we have worked closely to help strengthen their public health laboratory system and protect its most precious resource: the Ukrainian people.
Since 2010, APHL has assisted Ukraine in these efforts through close collaborations with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ukraine Office and the Ministry of Heath’s (MOH) Center for Public Health (UCPH). APHL has provided technical expertise to the Ukrainian laboratory community in strengthening and building programs to eliminate transmission of HIV and support global health security goals. This has included supporting workforce development efforts, training personnel across a variety of technical areas, and fostering excellence in laboratory leadership and management. APHL and UCPH recently started planning the implementation of the Global Laboratory Leadership Programme (GLLP) to strengthen and enhance the skills of leaders in the field. Augmenting much of this work is a twinning relationship developed in 2012 between Ukraine’s MOH and the Florida Department of Health Bureau of Public Health Laboratories to share best practices and assist Ukraine in achieving their goals.
APHL stands with the individuals and organizations of conscience around the world condemning the ongoing, unprovoked Russian incursion into Ukraine. This invasion has already resulted in innumerable Ukrainians forced to flee from their homes and far too many lives lost.
In 2018, I had the privilege to visit Ukraine and the honor to meet and work alongside our partners. I also had the deeply personal experience to visit the city in which my grandmother was born and fled early in the 20th century. I searched for the grave of my great-grandfather, only to find that the cemetery no longer exists, a consequence of past atrocities in the region.
Through sporadic contact with our Ukrainian colleagues, APHL’s global health staff have learned they are now sheltering in bunkers or taking up arms, anxiously awaiting news of better, more peaceful days to come.
As this conflict continues to escalate, the threat to Ukraine’s post-Soviet independence remains dire. The consequences are also significant for the nations of Europe, which have not seen a security crisis of this scale since World War II, for the United States and the rest of the world. We hope that this extremely volatile situation, and its foreboding and unpredictable ramifications, can soon be defused. The Ukrainian people should once again be free to determine their own future and secure their health.
As we continue to hope for peace, we also must act. Below is a list of organizations who are asking for assistance to help alleviate the growing humanitarian crisis in the region. We feel confident in recommending these organizations:
World Central Kitchen: WCK is a Washington, DC-headquartered organization that uses the power of food to nourish communities and strengthen economies in times of crisis and beyond. When disaster strikes, WCK’s Chef Relief Team mobilizes to the front lines to cook and provide meals to people in need. WCK is currently mobilized within Ukraine, and in a variety of bordering countries to provide meals to those fleeing the conflict.
The Red Cross of Ukraine: The Red Cross of Ukraine’s Emergency Appeal funds will be used to help those affected by armed conflict, with blood collection, mobilization of volunteers and resources and emergency activities.
Voices of Children: The charitable foundation of this organization is helping to provide psychological and psychosocial support to children affected by the Ukrainian conflict.
Sunflower of Peace: The nonprofit is raising money to prepare first aid medical tactical backpacks for paramedics and doctors on the front lines.