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GP orchestrates crucial supplies to Ukraine


Jolyon Attwooll


29/04/2022 4:38:34 PM

Turning a feeling of powerlessness into action, a Port Macquarie-based doctor has helped send vital medical and humanitarian supplies to his home country.

damaged apartment block in Ukraine
A local resident by an apartment block damaged by shellfire in the city of Rubezhnoye in Ukraine. (Picture: AAP Photos)

Back in early March, Dr Andriy Boyko spoke to newsGP of a sense of helplessness as he watched footage of missiles striking at the heart of Ukraine.
 
Born in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the Port-Macquarie based sports and exercise medicine clinician described the despair as he watched his childhood playgrounds turn into warzone.
 
Instead of giving in to that feeling, however, Dr Boyko took action.
 
Since that conversation, Dr Boyko has raised almost $87,000 to pay for medical equipment and humanitarian aid.
 
Already, more than $20,000 worth of medical equipment has been shipped and arrived in Ukraine.
 
And there is more where that came from. A new shipment is being planned, with Dr Boyko liaising directly with logistical and medical contacts to work out what supplies are needed. Soon, he will travel to the Polish border to orchestrate some of the distribution.
 
‘I’m leaving in about three weeks to supervise it myself, [a shipment] that is actually going to a couple of personal contacts,’ he told newsGP.
 
Part of it will go to Kyiv Trauma Hospital, while more supplies should help displaced children among what Dr Boyko calls an ‘epidemic’ of refugees coming from the devastation of the port city of Mariupol.
 
He is relieved that he has been able to take some meaningful action to contribute to the wellbeing of compatriots – including friends and relatives – who remain in Ukraine.
 
‘For my own personal emotional state, it is actually just great to be able to do something that is of value,’ he said.
‘That keeps me motivated and focused on what I’m doing, as opposed to what’s happening.’

Dr Boyko describes his recent work as ‘a real eye-opener open’ but says he has been impressed by the ‘amazing’ support of those who have given funds, as well as the selfless dedication of those involved in the aid efforts.
 
It has also been a steep learning curve, he says. The logistics in a large country such as Ukraine, acquiring supplies and getting accurate information about what is needed are the key challenges.
 
But his medical background, on-the-ground contacts and rapidly growing logistical knowledge are standing him in good stead to make a difference.
 
‘There are a lot of balls you have got to juggle all at the same time,’ he said.
 
‘That’s where I’m pretty lucky that I have contacts [in Ukraine] who work in those different branches. And we can pull all these pieces of the puzzle together to get them what they need and get it to the place that they need to go.’
 
The variety of different requirements around the country is another thing that has struck Dr Boyko.
 
The worst hit locations need equipment for blast injury management, acute life support equipment and medications − even some portable ultrasound. The tertiary trauma hospitals need surgical equipment, with single-use equipment now consistently being recycled.
 
Meanwhile, the refugee centres tend to have more general requirements.
 
‘It can be as simple as Panadol and Nurofen, to antihistamines for kids and asthma medications,’ Dr Boyko said.
 
‘The hardest thing to deliver is insulin and thyroxine because it’s very hard to ensure cold chain supply.
 
‘That is the one of the greatest needs and one of the most difficult things to deliver simply because … transport can cover 50 kilometres in half an hour or it can cover 50 kilometres in three days, depending on the situation.’
 
Personal toll
Dr Boyko is balancing his new role with a family responsibilities and his ongoing clinical work, and admits to feeling the strain.
 
‘It is hard to find a balance because you still want to be present at home,’ he said.
 
‘I guess that’s why [working] late nights work out for me because I can still spend that day at home being present. Then I guess I pay with a bit of sleep deficit.’
Andriy_Boyko-760x446-1.jpgDr Andriy Boyko

His family, however, understand what is driving him and are backing his efforts.
 
‘The whole community has been really supportive,’ he said.
 
‘From a family point of view, it is hard for them because they are worried about where I’m going and whether the conflict is going to escalate across the borders.
 
‘They are concerned and obviously it takes me away from home and puts an extra load of stress on me in organising all this. But I think they understand the situation and have been very supportive.’
 
Dr Boyko does not plan to ease off once the next shipment has gone – or if he exceeds the $100,000 Gofundme target he has put in place.
 
‘Those contacts and logistics and pathways are established, and we are in a position where we can respond to their needs a lot quicker,’ he said.
 
‘A sense of solidarity’
While his relatives and friends still in Ukraine live with the day-to-day uncertainty caused by the invasion, Dr Boyko has been able to see a positive side to the predicament they face.
 
‘The really amazing thing is, despite the horrors of war and the unjust nature of this war, it has really brought Ukraine together,’ he said.
 
‘There is a sense of solidarity and it is wonderful to see how everyone’s helping each other.
 
‘In the central Ukraine and south-west where there’s a lot of refugees, that’s been a positive amongst all this.’
 
More information on Dr Boyko’s fundraising and aid work is available on his gofundme page.
 
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Dr Nicholas Joseph Bassal   1/05/2022 11:18:20 AM

Great move by Dr Boyko.
I would like to send medical to Ukrainian people.
This is an idea.
What if Chemists and Medical Centres had special collection boxes 'Medicine for Ukrainians' where common medications could be placed. The medications could be excess stock or near expired stock held by pharmacies or medical centres or even deposited by the general public. The boxes would need to be somehow collected, contents sorted and then sent to Ukraine for distribution.
Consider the possibilities of millions of small donations of medical supplies and how they would add up to a double benefit. The donor doing something meaningful and the recipient receiving direct aid for people across the world.
Happy to keep discussing and developing the idea.
Dr Nick Bassal


Dr Nicholas Joseph Bassal   1/05/2022 11:23:10 AM

Further to previous message.
The 'Medicines for Ukrainians' collection boxes could be supported by the Pharmacy Guild and the RACGP as trusted authorities to build rapid engagement by the professions and the general public.
What are the chances of that possibility?
Regards
Nick


Dr Nicholas Joseph Bassal   5/05/2022 11:59:49 AM

Further to previous message.
The 'Medicines for Ukrainians' collection boxes could be supported by the Pharmacy Guild and the RACGP as trusted authorities to build rapid engagement by the professions and the general public.
What are the chances of that possibility?
Regards
Nick