International leaders gathered in Ukraine this month to learn about the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and subsequent healthcare projects led by the global nonprofit Green Cross International. Among them, Jonathan Samet, director of the USC Institute for Global Health, and research associate Sonny Patel met with heads of Green Cross International and visited affected sites.
Samet and Patel published the 2011 Green Cross Switzerland supported report, “The Psychological and Welfare Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster,” which considered two sources of evidence: published research and the findings of focus groups conducted in Kiev, Ukraine, in March 2011. The sources revealed that people who were displaced or exposed to radiation during the Chernobyl disaster continue to suffer from significant neuropsychological consequences 25 years later.
Currently, another set of focus groups in Ukraine is underway and will help inform how future projects are carried out in the area.
During the study trip, Samet and Patel, along with parliamentarians and government representatives from France, Switzerland, South Korea, Japan and United States, visited the villages of Slavutych and Pakul, where Green Cross has implemented projects to avoid and treat long-term diseases and disabilities connected to the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
In addition, Samet and Patel, along with Green Cross delegation, visited the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and met with Deputy Director Valery Seydar, who discussed the development and decommissioning of the facility, and the plans for a new enclosure for the fourth reactor, which was damaged in 1986.
“The trip gave me a better understanding of the impact of the disaster on the place and the people,” Samet said. “Twenty-six years after the disaster, much work is still needed to help those affected.”
The team also met with Alexander Likhotal, president and CEO of Green Cross International; Nathalie Gysi, executive director of Green Cross Switzerland; Maria Vitagliano, director of the International Social Medicine Program and Yuriy Sapiga, executive director of Green Cross Ukraine, to discuss the future of the study.
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