Norway extends agreement on medical evacuation from Ukraine

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Norwegian assistance in the medical evacuation of patients from Ukraine to hospitals in Europe is in high demand in the EU and Ukraine. The Norwegian Government is extending its agreement with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) on the transport of patients from 1 May to 31 August.

This SAS aircraft is used to evacuate Ukrainian patients and war wounded
This SAS aircraft is used to evacuate Ukrainian patients and war wounded. Credit: Helse- og omsorgsedepartementet

‘Our airlift operation allows us to make use of available hospital capacity in various other countries, reducing the burden on health care services in Ukraine. Norwegian health personnel based in the medical hub in Poland accompany the transports. Their outstanding efforts have received international recognition,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.

The medical evacuation operation from Ukraine is a coordinated effort involving several Norwegian ministries, the regional health authorities, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and other Norwegian health services, as well as the Norwegian Armed Forces, SAS, and the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection. The operation is coordinated under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), and since it started Norway has provided transport for the evacuation of close to 1000 people (patients and family members).

So far, over 745 attacks on the health sector in Ukraine have been registered.

‘There are no indications of a let-up in the fighting or in Russia’s arbitrary attacks on Ukraine’s civilian population. Soldiers and Ukrainian civilians alike are being injured and maimed. Hospitals, maternity clinics and medical warehouses are being bombed. The destruction of health care infrastructure is depriving close to half a million people of health care every month. The medical evacuation assistance Norway is providing is therefore essential and is now being extended,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

Complex operation

Many countries have available hospital capacity but do not have the means to transport patients. This is why Norway’s airlift capacity is in such high demand. Patients from Ukraine are first transported out of Ukraine to the medical hub in Poland before being transferred to hospitals across Europe for treatment.

‘This is a complex operation that plays a crucial role in ensuring that the Ukrainian patients receive the treatment they need. Norway’s unique medical transport expertise is now being put to good use in Ukraine. The air ambulance is crewed by Norwegian Armed Forces personnel, with doctors, nurses and paramedics on board. These are people who normally work in the Norwegian health services but have an agreement to be deployed at short notice for the Armed Forces,’ said Minster of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram.

High-quality medical care

Norway is one of the countries that has received the most patients under the UCPM. So far, some 203 patients have been treated in Norwegian hospitals. Norway offers treatment to patients from Ukraine based on medical assessments and the available capacity in the specialist health services.

‘Norway’s health services have been doing a tremendous job of providing care for Ukrainian patients since the start of the war. The capacity and willingness to help has been evident from day one. Norwegian hospitals have provided high-quality medical care. Moreover, these efforts have given Norwegian health care professionals new and valuable insight and experience,’ said Ms Kjerkol.