Specialists join Ukraine’s vaccination and nutrition hotline
The Spilno to Health Hotline offers information and advice on vaccination, breastfeeding and infant nutrition
A hotline offering information and advice on vaccination, breastfeeding and nutrition for children under the age of three has been helping hundreds of thousands of people since it launched in July 2022.
The Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) hotline Spilno to Health provides evidence-based information on vaccinations for children and adults, and on balanced nutrition for children.
"The hotline makes health care closer to those people who have lost connection with their doctor due to being displaced throughout Ukraine and the world," says Svitlana Shabalina, coordinator of the National Hotline and director of the Primary Health Care Center in Bakhmut.
Operators provide consultations for Ukrainians living in the country and abroad. So far, 759 children who currently live in 30 countries in Europe and North America have received consultations.
Yaroslava Oleksiyenko, a paediatrician from Kremenchuk, works as a hotline consultant on vaccination issues. She says the most common requests concern COVID-19 vaccination and children's immunisation.
"We noticed that often adults are not revaccinated against diphtheria and tetanus,” says Yaroslava. “So we remind them that, according to the National Vaccination Schedule, the revaccination against these infections is provided every ten years throughout life and that adults can receive it free of charge. We also tell them where they can get vaccinated, point out the children's vaccination schedule and explain what other infections may be preventable with vaccines, emphasising that vaccination is especially crucial during the war.”
Consultants like Yaroslava explain to callers that caring for children is not only about buying toys and nice clothes for them.
"Caring for children means you can protect them from infections with vaccination," she says. "When you realise that your consultation supports a person, you feel inspired to work more."
Yaroslava's colleague and fellow paediatrician Natalia Sydorets deals with nutrition issues. People often call her with breastfeeding questions.
"Sometimes, elderly ladies call who want to support their daughter or daughter-in-law, so they require some additional information," she says. "In the end, when you realise that your consultation supports a person, you feel inspired to work more. You understand that you do the right things. And therefore, you make a contribution to our future.”
Svitlana Shabalina says that many callers phone regarding limited access to vaccines in the frontline areas and a lack of information within host communities about where displaced people can receive healthcare services, particularly regarding immunisation of children and adults.
If you have any questions about vaccinations for children and adults, breastfeeding or optimal nutrition for children, please call the hotline on 0 800 35 18 96. The hotline operates from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Doctors, nurses and breastfeeding consultants are on hand help parents and healthcare workers with the following issues:
Vaccination of children and adults:
- vaccinations according to the National Immunization Schedule;
- vaccines not included in the national calendar;
- vaccination against COVID-19;
- emergency vaccination (in case of injury, animal bites, contact with blood).
Nutrition of children under three years of age:
- breastfeeding, in particular during the war;
- water/liquid consumption by a child;
- timely introduction of optimal complementary foods;
- optimal feeding of infants and young children;
- nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
The hotline was created by UNICEF in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Catholic University, with the support of the Ministry of Health and USAID (the United States Agency for International Development), in partnership with the NGO’s Family Nursing Association and VacciNation. The project is co-funded by the European Union and the German government, and implemented through GIZ in partnership with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.