«Everyone Who’s Alive Is Sick»: What Is Happening with Medicine in Occupied Mariupol

Local residents say: there is less and less light in the windows of high-rise buildings. Even the light from the candles is now rare — because people are leaving, hearing that it is explosions are closer to them and more and more loudly.

Photo: Russian media

«God forbid to get sick here»

A woman from occupied Mariupol, who calls herself Hel, adds that now the city, like last year, is becoming dangerous for health and even life. It’s easy to pick up a disease because even food is a pathogen.

«A neighbor who works as a nurse told me that there are many patients with jaundice and Hepatitis A in Mariupol. It’s better not to eat in public places or try products at the market.

Also, it’s not safe to eat scrambled eggs, the better option is to cook an omelet. All because of Salmonella, there are already infected patients. The water is not safe to drink; it can be used only for household needs. We buy potable water and boil it, there is no trust in it either," Hel says.

Distrust of the water from the humanitarian aid issued by the occupiers is not accidental. Previously, the locals had serious problems precisely because of it — particularly in 2022, when the city was on the verge of cholera. At that time, the locals had to drink either rain water (collected by themselves), or from puddles, or humanitarian water.

«We took water at the humanitarian aid center on Pisarev Street. I remember how bad my stomach hurt, even the cat had diarrhea! We thought we would die. We took all the medicines from our stocks… Everyone had diarrhea. And maybe cholera,» Hel recalls.

«They treat us this way because of people’s attitude towards them»

Locals say that the occupiers are very clearly showing their attitude towards Ukrainians — even those who remained under occupation and even support them. However, this hatred was formed even among the people of Donetsk, who have been under occupation since 2014.

«I'm from Donetsk, but I’ve been living in Mariupol since 2015. I often went home to my parents in Donetsk, and at that time the locals were mad at the Ukrainians. Once my neighbor said to me: «We live here from penny to penny, and you live high on the hog.» Even though I was also working hard at work, renting an apartment, and raising a child. I remember she blamed me for the fact that Ukraine gives large payments to refugees, although I only received 1,000 UAH per child. When I said that I don’t even get humanitarian aid, they didn’t believe me and said that I was lying.

Photo by Mariupol resident Hel

Medicine in Donetsk has become a complete mess in recent years. The doctors are so arrogant. In 2020, my friend took her child for an examination before the school year in Donetsk. The doctor openly told her to pay 3,000 rubles so that everything would happen quickly (and «without problems»). But recently I have met with trouble myself — my grandmother became ill. We called an ambulance, she was hospitalized at the 17th Hospital in Mariupol. In the corridor, they immediately put her on a drip in order not to waste time, and made injections to bring consciousness. But the department head came and started shouting on the personnel to get rid of grandma — that she will die in three hours, and this creep will have problems," the woman resents.

Hel notes: the «adventures» of the sick grandmother did not end there, because after her death new problems began.

«Grandma died on May 22. The pension fund issued 6,000 for the funeral (in fact, the funeral cost 124,000). We asked them how it is possible to bury a person for such an amount — and they told us that these are our problems. Queues are everywhere! And when we received the death certificate, the girl who works there said that she has one «working» finger, and she can’t type faster…

So such a bestial attitude from the Donetsk people is not a surprise. They came here and began to treat us like that because they were treated the same way back there. Nobody respects them so they treat us as nothing," the woman says.

From free dentistry to toothless smiles

Hel adds that old people stopped receiving medical care during the bombardments (and during the occupation). So now they have smiles peculiar to Russians — toothless.

«Elderly people lost their dental prosthesis during the bombardments and were left without a lower jaw. Now they smile with a toothless mouth: although they have lost their teeth, it is good that they are alive. And before the war in Mariupol, prostheses were made for pensioners free of charge,» the woman recalls.

A similar problem even with blood pressure measurement — what was done for free in every pharmacy in Ukraine, can now be obtained only by paying a considerable amount.

«If earlier in Mariupol, blood pressure was measured for free in any pharmacy, now you think that either the device is lying, or I am dying according to the readings of their device because it shows some unrealistic numbers. To measure the pressure, you have to go who knows where.

And it is almost impossible to measure it by yourself — here blood pressure monitors, like all devices, are very expensive, and it is impossible to repair your own — no one even repairs coffee machines in Mariupol, and there is no one who is versed in technology," the Mariupol woman notes.

Many residents of Mariupol are now forced to live without an arm and without a leg — and do not even have the hope of getting a prosthesis.

«A woman without a leg came to the clinic. She was not even given a prosthesis, 10,000 rubles will be paid only for disability, although prosthetics are several times more expensive. A woman was injured in the houses in the Kirov micro-district. She says that still can’t believe she doesn’t have a leg. The woman is a little over 50 years old.»

Residents of Mariupol under occupation (even those who were previously ready to assent the occupiers) admit that it is impossible to live in the city now. There are no conditions for the locals — or only for visiting Russians, who are allowed everything and even more.

«Without a Russian passport, you can lie down and die»

A similar mess (and absolutely legal!) is happening with insulin, which is vital for local people to survive. It is almost impossible to buy it in pharmacies — for the reason that local pharmacists do not order it. So actually the only option to get the medicine and live is… to get a Russian passport.

A local woman admits to «Vchasno» journalists: because of this, the speculation with medicines is huge. And it will be possible to lure locals to the elections or to hard labor with it — because Mariupol residents can be blackmailed with medicines.

«The other day, a video appeared of a man indignant that he was not given insulin without a passport. It got into social networks surprisingly, because here the occupiers arrest you for things like this on the spot! It’s true. It is impossible to get insulin if you do not have a passport of the Russian Federation. Citizenship of Russia. And this is legal because the hospital must issue these drugs, and since we already allegedly have Russia here, the top officials think that everyone has a passport. But it is impossible to get it! People stand in line for up to 10 hours every day just to submit documents. And those documents get lost, a maximum of 20 people are accepted a day. And just so you understand, the list of those who are waiting for a passport (whether they submitted documents or just submitted an application) is 20,000, and this is only in the central office. Well, few people got a passport. Because whoever survives until the end of the queue will be the one who will get an insulin shot,» the local resident Svitlana says.

She adds that for those who have enough money, there is no problem with medicine. Even with the insulin — although it seems impossible to get it.

«My friend is a nurse in a hospital. There is a scheme where you can approach one person, put some amount of cash in his or her pocket, and wait in the corridor. And you will have insulin, and stronger drugs (narcotics — ed.) — that’s how you can get them. You just need money. And who has them now? And the amounts are really significant, higher than in Russia. I know the price for the insulin — 3,500 rubles at least, and the doctor takes all the money for herself, and a record is made as if it was issued to someone with diabetes. Everything is twice as expensive here, and medicines are generally three times as expensive because everyone who is alive is sick here,» the Mariupol resident adds.

«There are still no medical instruments — everything was stolen and taken away, and Putin skimps to bring an MRI device here»

Hel notes that in the city plundered by invaders, medicine forces people to survive, not to live.

«In Russia, MRI machines are so out-of-date that patients lie there for several hours. In Ukrainian Mariupol, the MRI machines were state-of-the-art, the procedure took a few minutes, not hours. But no one knows where the Mariupol MRI machines were taken — whether they were evacuated or stolen. One was in the „Health Code“, and two machines were in the hospital behind the „Neptun“ pool, the 1st hospital on Ilyich had the best MRI and the best doctors. Now all this is gone — since Russian people in uniform entered the city,» the woman says.

Author: Alina Yevych

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