The article reads: "In a cramped cardiologist's office in southeast Ukraine, Tatyana Ivanovna, 76, begged for sedatives. Andrey Polyakov, her doctor, took time to listen, though he knew there was nothing he could do. In the past half-hour, he had turned down requests for antibiotics, hypertension pills and several other routine medicines that have all but disappeared from this separatist-held part of Ukraine.
"And for the anxiety?" the patient asked, her voice trailing off expectantly. Already suffering from high blood pressure and back pain, she began having panic attacks when a mortar round landed on her neighbor's house in October.
"Moonshine!" Dr. Polyakov interjected, and the consultation was over.
"Even before the war, it was tough here in the Donetsk coal basin to navigate the aches and pains of old age on a meager pension. Now, it is a battle for survival, and looking grimmer by the day as fighting intensifies despite a shaky cease-fire. Pensions are blocked, banks are closed, and drugstore shelves are empty, largely a result of measures taken by Kyiv to isolate the Russian-backed militias and prevent government money from falling into the hands of the separatists. "A woman comes in, and she says her kidneys hurt," said Dr. Polyakov, who was working at a hospital that serves as a base for Doctors Without Borders. "I go down the list of the drugs we have, and there's nothing there. I can tell her to go out and buy it, but the drugstores are empty. And what's the point, because there is no money anyway?" Doctors Without Borders can provide very limited help because Ukraine restricts the kinds and amounts of supplies that the organization can bring into the country.
"Six months ago, hospitals like this one were filled with victims of recent shellings and postoperative amputees, the casualties of a hot artillery war. With a cease-fire holding in most of the conflict zone, the war-wounded have now been replaced by the elderly, who hid in cellars during the fighting and have emerged to find the social safety net stripped from under them. Of the 200 people who come each day to the clinic where Dr. Polyakov works, more than 90 percent are elderly, often with treatable chronic illnesses like hypertension, heart problems and diabetes. Prices have doubled or tripled for the few drugs that are available, patients, doctors and pharmacists say. Delivering medicine for the elderly would seem like a simple task, but it has become mired in an intractable political question: Who will govern and pay for the Ukrainian territories held by pro-Russian separatists?
"In November, President Petro O. Poroshenko signed an order that closed all government institutions in areas of southeastern Ukraine under rebel control: police stations, courthouses, universities and hospitals. As a result, deliveries of drugs to regional hospitals were also halted. People with health problems could receive pensions and medical treatment if they traveled across the front lines into government-held territory. Dorit Nitzan, the head of the World Health Organization's Ukraine office, said that international health organizations working with Ukraine's government could supply some drugs to the conflict zone, but that there was still an enormous gap between supply and demand. There is no firm data on how many have died because of the lack of medical care, she said. Ms. Nitzan said she hoped that legislation would soon formalize a path for drugs to the region. Meanwhile, hospitals delay planned surgery because there are no anesthetics. Diabetics are told to travel across the front lines for treatment," the article reads.