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WHO confirms 18 attacks on Ukrainian hospitals and ambulances, creating the "worst possible ingredients" for spread of disease

Russian airstrike hits Ukrainian maternity hospital
Russian airstrike hits Ukrainian maternity hospital 03:50

Russia's assault on Ukraine has included multiple attacks against Ukrainian hospitals, ambulances and health workers, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. In the two weeks since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion, WHO has confirmed 18 attacks on health providers. 

The 18 attacks thus far have resulted in at least 10 deaths and 16 injuries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. 

"These attacks deprive all communities of health care," he said, adding that the "only real solution to the situation is peace." 

The WHO leader's comments came as a Mariupol children's hospital and maternity facility suffered "colossal" damage from what Ukrainian officials said was a Russian strike. Video taken after the alleged attack shows the outside of the facility nearly eradicated, with vehicles completely destroyed, trees covered in soot, and debris flying everywhere. 

Additional video posted by Ukrainian President Volydmyr Zelensky shows the extent of the damage inside the facility. The walkthrough of the facility shows walls falling, shattered windows, and rooms in complete disarray. 

The city's council said that the damage was "colossal," and Zelensky said that that are "people, children under the wreckage." 

"Atrocity!" the president said on Twitter, reiterating his request for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over the country. "You have the power but you seem to be losing humanity," he said. 

Mike Ryan, the head of WHO's emergencies program, said Wednesday that the violence in the country is driving a health crisis that "will only get worse" unless there is a ceasefire. 

With more than 2 million people fleeing the country, an untallied number staying in bomb shelters, and multiple attacks on health facilities, the conditions in Ukraine "are the worst possible ingredients" for the spread of infection, Ryan said, calling infectious diseases "one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse." 

"It doesn't matter if it's COVID, doesn't matter if it's polio, doesn't matter if it's measles," he said. "You put that many people in desperation and on the move, women and children packed together, people in basements, people stressed, people not eating, not sleeping, these are the conditions in which immune systems are weak, people's defenses are low and infectious diseases can rip through populations."

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