Starvation among refugees more of a concern than Covid-19, Prof Luke O'Neill says

Professor Luke O'Neill has said that food shortages are more of a concern than Covid-19. 
Starvation among refugees more of a concern than Covid-19, Prof Luke O'Neill says

Olivia Kelleher

Professor Luke O'Neill, who travelled to the Ukrainian/Polish border with medical supplies as part of a convoy from Medical Help Ukraine, says that he is more concerned about starvation among refugees than diseases such as Covid-19.

The Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin told the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, that they delivered a huge amount of medical supplies to the border last Friday

"And then we drove down to Bratislava in Slovakia [where] there's a huge depot run by Depaul, I'm an ambassador for Depaul by the way," Professor O'Neill explained.

"They're coordinating a massive supply depot there.

"There's a lot of refugees, unbelievable numbers in Poland and in Slovakia, I couldn't get over it.

"We were in Krakow last weekend and the streets are full of families - we're talking mothers, grandmothers and children, no men.

"All the men are back fighting.Loads of Ukrainian number plates everywhere, same in Bratislava - we stayed in a hotel, there were 15 families in that hotel.

"It's heartbreaking stuff... the kids especially are very traumatised, and they're very disturbed by all this".

Low vaccination rates

Professor O'Neill said that food shortages are more of a concern than Covid-19.

"It was a country that had low vaccination rates, and that's the case in eastern European countries," Professor O'Neill said.

"At the moment I'm more worried about starvation, that's how serious it is there.

"But medical agencies are keeping a very close eye on Covid and other infectious diseases as well.

"It was medical supplies, food was needed because of the starvation happening, hygiene supplies - I was able to witness all that."

Medical Help Ukraine is compromised of Ukrainian doctors based in Ireland. Dr Alexander Boychak, Dr Kateryna Kachurets, Dr Nataliya Kononenko, Dr Oksana Kozdoba, Dr Lyudmyla Zakharchenko, Dr Iryna Surzhenko, and Dr Lesia Gamorak established the group with the aim of urgently delivering aid from this country to their homeland.

The initiative is supported by the Ukrainian Embassy of Ireland, Lifeline Ambulance Services, the HSE, Blackrock Health (incorporating Blackrock Clinic, Galway Clinic, Hermitage Clinic and Limerick Clinic), Bons Secours Health System Ireland, UPMC Ireland, Mater Private Network, and Ryanair.

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