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Country Doctor in Ukraine Faces Coronavirus Challenges


Dr. Viktoria Mahnych rides a horse-pulled cart to visit a patient with COVID-19 in Verhovyna village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Country Doctor in Ukraine Faces Coronavirus Challenges
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

A country doctor working in western Ukraine uses any form of transportation she can to see her patients. Sometimes Viktoria Mahnych rides her bicycle. Sometimes she takes her family’s old car. Sometimes, she even travels in a horse-pulled cart.

Doctor Mahnych cares for more than 2,000 patients who live in several villages in the Carpathian Mountains.

Dr. Viktoria Mahnych, wearing face mask against coronavirus, checks on a COVID-19 patient with a stethoscope at at his home in Iltsi village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Evgeniy Maloletka)
Dr. Viktoria Mahnych, wearing face mask against coronavirus, checks on a COVID-19 patient with a stethoscope at at his home in Iltsi village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Evgeniy Maloletka)

Ukraine, a country of 42 million people, has recorded more than 1.1 million confirmed COVID-19 infections. Almost 20,000 Ukrainians have died of the disease. Doctor Mahnych told the Associated Press that she does not know how many of her patients have COVID-19.

And right now, healthcare workers in the country are preparing for a sharp increase in the spread of the coronavirus.

Most Ukrainians are Eastern Orthodox Christians. The religious group recently celebrated the Christmas season. Many went to restaurants, parties, and church services to observe the holidays. Many attended such events without wearing face covers, called masks, or taking other measures to prevent coronavirus from spreading.

Doctor Mahnych says she fears that these holiday activities will cause a sudden and speedy increase in new coronavirus infections. This will make her already difficult job even more so.

Dr. Viktoria Mahnych, poses for a photo prior to her interview with the Associated Press in Verhovyna village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. AP Photo)
Dr. Viktoria Mahnych, poses for a photo prior to her interview with the Associated Press in Verhovyna village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. AP Photo)

New lockdowns

On January 8, Ukraine entered a 17-day-long lockdown aimed at stopping new infections. The measure closed schools, theaters and other entertainment places. Restaurant operations are limited to carry out service.

However, some regions have refused to obey the government measure. The mayors of two towns -- Ternopil and Cherkasy -- said their cities will not observe the restrictions. Each town has a population of more than 200,000 people.

Many medical workers say the lockdown came too late, anyway.

If the lockdown had covered the holidays, Mahnych said, “it would have had a positive impact on the number of coronavirus infections.”

Mahnych and hundreds of other Eastern Orthodox Christians gathered for the Christmas service at a church in the village of Iltsi. They lined up to kiss Christian holy objects, as is tradition. Many did not wear masks. Mahnych said other churchgoers forced her to take off her mask. They said they did not want to think about the pandemic.

Dr. Viktoria Mahnych, wearing a Hutsul's traditional colorful clothes, crosses herself holding a face mask in her hand because other worshippers forced her to take off her mask. (AP Evgeniy Maloletka)
Dr. Viktoria Mahnych, wearing a Hutsul's traditional colorful clothes, crosses herself holding a face mask in her hand because other worshippers forced her to take off her mask. (AP Evgeniy Maloletka)

Also, Maynych does not wear full personal protective equipment during patient visits because it frightens people. She told of one incident where locals threatened her because of her protective clothing.

Mahnych told the AP she is worried about the state of the nation’s healthcare system. She said it does not get enough financial support and has been weakened by reforms.

She and other doctors are putting their hopes on the vaccination effort. Vaccinations are expected to start in March.

Mahnych says she has been working day and night without any time off and rarely sees her family.

After a long working day Dr. Viktoria Mahnych and her two daughters walk to her parents to celebrate an eve of the Orthodox Christmas in Iltsi village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Evgeniy Maloletka)
After a long working day Dr. Viktoria Mahnych and her two daughters walk to her parents to celebrate an eve of the Orthodox Christmas in Iltsi village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Evgeniy Maloletka)

She told reporters, “I don’t have any time or energy left.”

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo.

Mstyslav Chernov, Yuras Karmanau reported this story for the Associated Press from Kyiv, Ukraine. Anna Matteo presented it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

cart n. a wagon with two wheels that is pulled by an animal (such as a horse or donkey)

positive adj. good or useful

impact n. a powerful or major influence or effect

church adj. a building that is used for Christian religious services

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