Keralite doctor heads to Ukraine on a mission

The team consists of experienced professionals who have been to conflict zones.

Published: 26th April 2022 06:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th April 2022 04:23 PM   |  A+A-

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By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Orthopaedic professor Dr SS Santhosh Kumar has left for war-torn Ukraine, in yet another humanitarian mission for two-three months. Santhosh is the mission director of a team for an international NGO providing medical assistance.

He flew to the Polish capital to Warsaw via Dubai on April 26, and later to the border city of Krakow which will be the hub of NGO. The team, consisting of nine members from USA, Italy, Canada and Kenya will take the road to reach Lviv, a city of Ukraine located around 70 kilometers from the border with Poland. The team will be deployed to offer medical assistance to the gateway city that has seen an influx of refugees and other people displaced.

"There are a lot of people staying in Lviv. Our task is to augment the medical system which has either failed or overwhelmed. We will establish mobile clinics, take over functional health centres and attend to pregnancy emergencies," said Dr Santhosh.

The team consists of experienced professionals who have been to conflict zones. Santhosh has travelled to 45 countries such as Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Haiti, Bosnia, Chad, Congo to offer relief and medical care.

Dr Santhosh is also the South Asia vice president of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organisation. He started associating with MSF when he was a third year student of MBBS. "I came to know about MSF when I went as a volunteer during the Lathur earthquake in 1991. The international assignments started later in 2003 during an earthquake in Indonesia. I had to lie to my family who would be worried about my safety and I told them that I was going to Dubai," said Santhosh.

The missions are mostly risky as he came close to gun shots and rocket firings. He however said that the roads are much more dangerous than war zones. "In Thiruvananthapuram medical college we conduct around 40-60 surgeries a day, which is higher than the surgeries required in a war zone. We tend to assume that a familiar road is less dangerous than an unfamiliar terrain. We work within professional and legal space in a conflict zone and others respect it to some extent. It is a calculated risk," said Santhosh.

His experience in handling infectious diseases such as Ebola in Sierra Leone has helped him to lead missions to Mumbai during Covid. The experience learned there became useful in augmenting the oxygen supplies and establishing Covid brigade in Kerala. He also led a team to set up a hospital in Kasaragod to deal with the pandemic.


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