UBC's Dr Hubert Chao (second from left) and Dr Luba Butska (third from right) with the Canadian Medical Assistance Team deployed to Poland and Ukraine in May 2022.
There’s a common phrase that Ukrainians say when they bid each other farewell: “Until our victory.”
For UBC midwifery professor Dr Luba Butska, the phrase signifies the palpable strength of the Ukrainian people who have endured ongoing devastation for more than a year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, yet are compelled to keep fighting for their country. She says that you can feel it on the ground; Ukrainians keep going because they believe there will be a moment when they will be victorious.
That resilience inspired Dr Butska to lend her support to Ukraine after the war broke out and to continue volunteering in Ukraine despite the safety risks. Born in Canada to a Ukrainian mother, Dr Butska speaks fluent Ukrainian. As an assistant professor in the midwifery program in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, she knew her medical expertise and language fluency might prove useful to the war effort.
When the opportunity arose to volunteer in Ukraine, she and her husband Drew Kostyniuk—a nurse practitioner who is also Ukrainian-Canadian—jumped at the chance. In May 2022, they were deployed with the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams (CMAT)—a disaster-relief organization made up of health professionals who volunteer to assist victims of natural and human-caused disasters around the world.
They spent 2 weeks traveling with CMAT to provide medical care in northwestern Ukraine, where thousands of displaced people had arrived in the weeks following the Russian invasion, some attempting to flee to nearby Poland.
During times of crisis, unexpected connections can emerge. By chance, Dr Butska found herself volunteering alongside a fellow UBC community member, Dr Hubert Chao. Although they had never met, Dr Chao, a primary care physician at UBC’s Student Health Clinic, also happened to be deployed on the same CMAT mission.
While the team did provide some trauma care to soldiers and injured civilians, most of their work was focused on primary care, such as prescriptions for medications or blood pressure checks. For safety reasons, the CMAT crew stayed in Poland every night and would cross the border to Ukraine every day.
Dr Chao recalls the fear whenever they would receive word of airstrike warnings in the region while they were driving. One day, they received a warning while they were on their way to pick up their translator in the city of Kovel. Fortunately, the team was able to reach the translator, and the airstrike warning ended without any bombs being dropped.
Despite the risks, both Drs Butska and Chao plan to continue helping Ukraine.
Dr Chao—who has previously volunteered in Tibet as well as Nepal following the devastating earthquake in 2015—hopes to continue providing humanitarian assistance to people in crisis situations in Ukraine and around the world.
Dr Butska returned to Kyiv for 2 months this summer with her husband and daughter. The family volunteered with Ukrainian Patriot, an organization working to deliver aid to those on the front lines as well as civilians caught in the crossfire. Dr Butska helped with logistics, sourcing, and delivering medical supplies to hospitals all over the country. Next year, she plans to return to Ukraine to do research on the country’s health care system to try to understand how it has remained resilient in the face of the war. As a midwifery professor, she hopes to focus on midwifery care and to bring the lessons from her research back to her classes at UBC.
|This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.|
Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee
of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally
accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.
An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.
BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:
- Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
- There is no period after the journal name.
- Page numbers are not abbreviated.
For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org