Social and Medical Care

Health and education for the most vulnerable.


The Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster of 1986 led to the radioactive contamination of vast areas in Russia, Belarus, Moldova and the Ukraine. 25 years later, earthquakes triggered the devastating nuclear accident in Fukushima. Ever since, 8 % of Japan’s land has been radioactively contaminated. During the Vietnam War, the use of the defoliant Agent Orange led to tens of thousands of square kilometres being contaminated with dioxin over a long period of time.


Around ten million people (Chernobyl Case Studies) in Moldova, Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine as well as in Japan are and will be living for decades to come on contaminated land. In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, millions of people have become indirect victims of the Vietnam War following the use of the Agent Orange herbicide. Studies show that an estimate of 3,500 children are born every year with a physical disability which is due to the defoliant Agent Orange.


Through its Social and Medical Care Programme, Green Cross Switzerland supports the worst affected people by helping them to help themselves – in particular, children, young people and their mothers. The environmental organisation provides medical, psychological and educational means to improve the living conditions of children, young adults and families living in the areas contaminated with radioactive and chemical substances: 


The Social and Medical Care projects for the victims of nuclear contamination in the Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova include the following:


Therapy camps for children and young people Children and young people spend a minimum of 4 weeks in a location with fresh, healthy air where they receive unpolluted food and comprehensive medical care to boost their immune system and mental health. As a result, their exposure to radiation is decreased by between 30 and 80 %. Before and after the camps, children receive medical care by mobile teams of doctors and consultants who travel to the children’s homes.


Mother and child project The project provides recuperation for mothers and their smaller children under psychological and medical care. Mothers are given the possibility to attend nutrition courses on how to handle contaminated food.


Women’s cooperative In order to strengthen the independence of women and thus, the communities in the villages, the project promotes cattle, pig and rabbit breeding, beekeeping, fish farming as well as setting up sewing ateliers.


The Social and Medical Care projects for the victims of chemical contamination in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos include the following:


Orthopaedic care in Vietnam Children affected by the Agent Orange herbicide receive orthopaedic aids to be able to move independently and to gain access to education. Surgeries are often necessary beforehand as well as specialised walking and movement training afterwards.


The Integration project tackles the problems of social marginalisation of handicapped people. Young people who are physically handicapped are provided with a credit in form of a pregnant cow. By selling the calves and the milk, they can repay the credit and secure a modest source of income in the long term.


In Laos and Cambodia local communities receive medical care for affected children, young people and women and are informed about the dangers of the Agent Orange defoliant. Contaminated areas are marked to stop fishing and vegetable growing in a contaminated environment. The use of water filters allows access to clean water.


The Social and Medical Care Programme is led by Maria Vitagliano. Green Cross Switzerland works in collaboration with the national Green Cross organisations in Japan, Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine to implement the International Social and Medical Care Programme. In Moldova, they work with the NGOs Echo of Chernobyl and Healthy Family as well as the community of Onitskani and in Vietnam with ULSA/Vietcot (University of Labor and Social Affairs). In Laos, the local partners of the Green Cross are the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defence, the Water Resources and Environment Administration (WREA) as well as environmental specialists of the Canadian organisation Hatfield Consultants. In Cambodia, the programme is implemented in cooperation with the local NGO Wathnakpheap.

Green Cross
Schweiz | Suisse | Svizzera
Mühlebachstrasse 32
Postfach 769
8024 Zürich
Tel. +41 (0)43 499 13 23

Spendenkonto Green Cross Schweiz:
PC 80-576-7
IBAN CH02 0900 0000 8000 0576 7