Medical Teams has a long history of supporting the surrounding regions of Ukraine — namely Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine itself — which uniquely positions us to respond to the massive Ukraine crisis. The following is an account of our work in these countries, including an update on our work to care for the many Ukrainians forced from their homes and country.

Ukraine: Crisis update

When the world witnessed the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in the early hours of February 24, 2022, we collectively held our breath, waiting to see what would happen next. One year later, the conflict languishes, affecting millions of Ukrainian people who remain displaced. The unprecedented impact of this migration is still reverberating throughout the region and beyond with an estimated 7.8 million refugees, nearly 6 million internally displaced people, and 17.6 million people deemed as needing urgent humanitarian assistance.

Three men carry their small children along a road
A group of Ukrainian men holding their children wait to cross the border into Slovakia

Ukrainians have inspired us all through their strength, unity, and resilience. Since the conflict began, Medical Teams has worked alongside Ukrainians and Moldovans to provide life-saving medical care and mental health support to refugees, displaced people, host communities, and first responders. By equipping and strengthening local partners and health systems, Medical Teams is making an impact. Over the last year:

  • 6,956 medical consultations with Ukrainians were made possible through our mobile medical teams
  • 2,983 internally displaced people and vulnerable community members received free medication through Medical Teams-supported pharmacies
  • 46 tons of critical medical supplies and equipment shipped to local partners in Ukraine and Moldova through our medical supplies distribution program
  • 110 power generators as well as blankets and non-food items were distributed to health facilities in Kherson Oblast and Dnipropetrovsk Oblast

Supporting local organizations

Medical Teams is providing technical, financial, and in-kind donations to local organizations, including Благодійна організація “МЕРЕЖА” м. Кривий Ріг (The All Ukrainian Network PWLWH Kryvyi Rih City), which provides emergency medical services in Kherson Oblast, and МІСЬКИЙ ЦЕНТР ДОПОМОГИ ТА ВЗАЄМОДІЇ (City Help and Interaction Center), which supports displaced families with food, hygiene items, and medications in Odessa Oblast.

Providing mental health and psychosocial support for Ukraine crisis

To address the acute mental health needs of Ukrainians who have experienced suffering and loss, Medical Teams is working to increase access to mental health services. We are focusing on mental health support through individual and group counseling, mental health awareness training sessions, and social cohesion activities for internally displaced people, clinical staff, and volunteers. We also supported an eastern Ukraine residential psychiatric unit that was evacuated and re-established in western Ukraine.

Even before the most recent crisis in Ukraine, Medical Teams was involved in supporting health needs in the country. Since 2015, we’ve partnered with two organizations, Ukrainian American Cultural Association and Emmanuel Mercy Mission, to ship critical health supplies and equipment into Ukraine. In total, we shipped 446 pallets with an approximate value of $14 million. Given our history and connection with Ukraine, it was an easy decision to a mobilize a greater response in light of recent events.

medical supplies laid out on table with pallets of boxes labeled "Ukraine" in background, supporting the Ukraine crisis

We sent volunteer medical staff to assist with refugee health needs such as treating various conditions as well as train border staff in emergency first aid. In addition to having staff and volunteers on the ground in eastern Europe, we partnered with other organizations — like Integra in Slovakia — to send crucial supplies into the region. And one of our first partners in response to the recent Ukraine crisis was Coram Deo,  supporting its work at a refugee transit center (see below).

Moldova: Coram Deo

Moldova, the second poorest nation in Europe, is one of many countries that experienced a large influx of Ukrainian refugees in the past year. Medical Teams began working in Moldova in March 2022, providing medical care and mental health support to refugees and host communities as well as training for first responders such as border patrol.

Coram Deo is Medical Teams’ former partner in Moldova. Currently, in response to the Ukraine crisis, Coram Deo prepares hygiene kits and boxes of food on a daily basis and drops them off at a refugee transit center. Volunteers distribute the hygiene kits to Ukrainian refugee families and three meals a day are prepared for all of the Ukrainians in the transit center. ​

four people holding plastic bags filled with various hygiene items like toilet paper, toothbrushes, soap, etc. -- supporting the Ukraine crisis
Coram Deo and Medical Teams staff partnering to help Ukrainian refugees

​Medical Teams International began operations in Moldova in April 1997 by establishing a partnership with Ron Helton, an American missionary who worked in association with Kishinev Bible Church. Initially, Medical Teams worked in orphanages as an extension of the work of the Kishinev Bible Church. This included refurbishing some of the children’s rooms in the orphanage with volunteers and sending Gift of Hope teams (i.e., donor teams that distributed gifts to the orphans at Christmas time).

In the early 2000s, Ron Helton left Moldova which resulted in the registration of Coram Deo in the country. Officially a local Moldovan agency, Coram Deo was then led by Rodica Cherbov. During that time, Medical Teams continued to support Coram Deo by providing project planning and funding, including volunteer teams for various projects. ​

In addition to the initial orphanage project, Medical Teams:​

  • refurbished the burn unit at Chisinau Hospital
  • deployed massage therapy teams to assist burn survivors’ recovery
  • deployed volunteer teams to orphanages (medical, physical therapy, and Gift of Hope teams)
  • provided emergency medical service training in Chisinau and near the region of Transnistria

​Medical Teams ended its collaboration with Coram Deo around 2016-2017, but the agency continued operations on its own. Rodica’s son, Vladimir, is now on the Coram Deo board. Vladimir reports that Coram Deo has a very good reputation within the country with helpful government networks and connections. Medical Teams also maintains a very good reputation with the government of Moldova.

Romania: Fundatia Heart of Hope

man holding small child
Medical Teams founder Ron Post visiting Romania

Though we are not currently serving in Romania as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, Medical Teams has deep ties to the country. Our work in Romania began in 1990 through a local partner called Fundatia Heart of Hope (FHH). In the 20 years of working in Romania, Medical Teams sent 173 volunteer teams to support the orphanages in Romania whose deplorable conditions received worldwide attention following the fall of the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. The types of volunteer teams varied widely — there were Gift of Hope teams providing Christmas gifts to the orphan children; teams that  supported optometry needs, dental work, emergency medical services training, and physical therapy; and construction teams to help remodel the orphanages.

Medical Teams also sent 39 container shipments of medicines, medical supplies, and other equipment to support the orphanages, families, and villages where FHH works. We ended our formal partnership with FHH in June 2010 (unfortunately, largely in part due to funding constraints brought about by the 2008 financial crisis).

Going where we’re needed most

As the Ukraine crisis continues, our team monitors and assesses ongoing needs in the region. The generous support of our donors allows us to adapt as the situation changes to best meet the needs of those displaced by the conflict. Consider joining our life-saving work in Ukraine today.

“Medical Teams would like to acknowledge the strength and resolve of the Ukrainians we have served with to improve access to critically needed medical care and supplies. In the past year, many individuals, corporations, foundations, and churches have put their concern and compassion into action. Needs remain high in Ukraine, however. Your continued support will help bring healing to conflict survivors in Ukraine or in one of the other countries in which Medical Teams serves people in crisis. Thank you sincerely for your generosity.”

—Martha Holley Newsome, Medical Teams President & CEO

Note: Portions of this article were originally published on April 14, 2022.

headshot of Joe Dicarlo

Joe DiCarlo

As global ambassador at Medical Teams, Joe elevates the significance of faith in our organization. He ensures our Christian identity permeates throughout all we do, promotes the spiritual growth and well-being of staff and volunteers, and represents the organization to external audiences.