Some 500 doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers responded to the appeal from the authorities in Lazio, the region around Rome, for medical staff to travel to the borders of Ukraine and potentially into war zones amid the Russian attack on the country, reports Italian newspaper Repubblica.
The regional health authority called for professionals to provide medical assistance “in the areas affected by the conflict as well as in neighbouring countries”.
The regions of Lombardy and Piedmont are also recruiting doctors to travel to the borders of Ukraine to help civilians travel to Italy to receive the treatment they need.
Italian media reported on Friday that Lombardy’s health authority was ready to dispatch the first flight taking doctors and a shipment of medicines to Romania.
Piedmont is also preparing to send doctors and nurses from the region to Romania as soon as possible to take child cancer patients for treatment at Turin’s Regina Margherita hospital.
The recruitment drives were organised independently by regional authorities, and are not coordinated nationwide.
For the medics to be allowed to depart, however, they need the go-ahead from the national government, which must make arrangements for the medical care of refugees on their arrival in Italy. As of Monday the government does not appear to have authorised the regions’ aid flights to leave Italy.
Health services in other Italian regions are contributing medicines to the humanitarian assistance programme set up by the Italian Department for Civil Protection in order to collect medical supplies requested by the Ukrainian government.
The first shipment of aid from Italy arrived at the Ukraine border on Thursday, the Department for Civil Protection said in a statement.
🇮🇹🇺🇦 #3marzo Aiuti per #Ucraina: arrivato a destinazione il primo carico di materiale per assistenza messo a disposizione dalla #ProtezioneCivile italiana. Le 200 tende capaci di ospitare 1000 persone sono state consegnate nel centro logistico individuato dal Meccanismo Europeo🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/Lseqktd8aM
— Dipartimento Protezione Civile (@DPCgov) March 3, 2022
Italian regions are meanwhile also preparing plans to immunise arrivals from Ukraine against Covid-19, given that Ukraine has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe.
The Lombardy region alone has said it is peparing to receive 100,000 people fleeing from the conflict.
Some 900,000 refugees are expected to arrive in Italy from Ukraine in the coming weeks, according to Fabio Prevedello of the European Italy-Ukraine Cultural Association.
“This estimate is based on the fact that there are about 250,000 Ukrainians in Italy, that many relatives will try to join them and that every Ukrainian family has an average of 2-3 children,” he said in an interview with the Ansa news agency.
A total of around one million refugees have fled Ukraine since the conflict began, according to the UN refugee agency.