Nordic Foundation to build children’s hospital in Ukraine – ‘We have seen what happens when war traumas are not treated’


A newly established Nordic foundation is planning to establish a hospital, research unit and virtual hospital in Ukraine specialising in war traumas. The project, launched by business executive Anne Berner, is initially being funded by a number of European foundations and the private sector. The Deaconess Foundation is one of the initiators of the foundation.

Lastensairaala saa logon jossa on lintu ja sana Nadija for children.

The future of entire generations in Ukraine is at risk if the war traumas are not properly treated in time. Currently, more than 1.5 million Ukrainian children are at risk of mental health disorders, and one in three children already show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ukraine’s healthcare system is completely overstretched and local authorities are unable to provide adequate support to children and families. Many mental health services are fee-based and not everyone can afford them. Local doctors and nurses also need further training in the treating war trauma.

That’s why Anne Berner has now launched a project to build a hospital specialising in mental health and war trauma in Ukraine. Berner is also known as the driving force behind the New Children’s Hospital in Finland.

“Finland has a long history of wars and war trauma. We have seen what happens when war traumas are passed on untreated from one generation to the next. In Ukraine, we must be able to intervene immediately when trauma occurs. Early professional help can bear fruit decades later,” says Berner.

The hospital project will be carried out in three  phases

The needs of Ukrainian children can be divided into four categories: health care, mental health assistance, prevention of the spread of infectious diseases, and education on security and the effects of war, explains Andrii Loboda, research director at the Sumy State University in Ukraine.

“Children need professional help as early as possible. Treating trauma quickly will also mitigate its long-term effects.”

To bring help to Ukraine immediately, the hospital will first open in digital form. The aim is to provide professional mental health services to all Ukrainian children and families online. Digitalisation will enable the use of new technologies, such as virtual reality, to treat war trauma.

 The new foundation aims to launch the digital hospital as soon as possible.

 “We want to ensure that every child and family has access to care, regardless of location or time. That’s why low-threshold digital methods of care are already a big help,” explains Berner.

Later, the project will expand into a physical one. A hospital will be built in Ukraine, where trauma research will also be carried out later. The aim is to provide the whole of Europe and the rest of the world with research on the mental and physical effects of war and how to treat them.

Both the digital and physical hospital will be planned by a team of doctors, researchers, mental health professionals and volunteers working closely with the local health care system in Ukraine. The project’s advisory group is led by Kirsi Peltonen, Associate Professor at the University of Turku, and includes Professor Wietse Anton Tol from the University of Copenhagen, Professor Jonas F. Ludvigsson from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and Professor Andreas Wladis from Lingköping University in southern Sweden.

Funding from Nordic philanthropic actors

The founders of the new foundation are the Deaconess Foundation and the foundations of Ilkka Paananen and Mikko Kodisoja, the founders of the gaming company Supercell, the Swedish Medicover Foundation, the Norwegian investment company Ferd owned by the Andresen family of industrialists, the Danish Lundbeck Foundation and the IT company Netcompany. The practical implementation of the project will be the responsibility of the board of the new foundation. All the founders will make an initial capital outlay of €150,000 to the foundation, making a total of €900,000. The Finnish War Veterans Association has also pledged its support to the project.

The foundation now aims to raise an additional €150 million for the project from private and public sources.

“This project will not only help Ukrainian children, but the whole world. Treating and especially researching war trauma has far-reaching implications for all of us. The lessons learned from the hospital will also help other Europeans to prepare for future crises”, says Anne Berner.


Further information and interview requests

Anne Berner: Contact Verna Vuoripuro, Head of Brand and Community, +358 40 756 3088

Olli Holmström, CEO of the Deaconess Foundation: Contact Jenni Sarolahti, Deaconess Foundation Communications Manager, + 358 50 372 0828


The Deaconess Foundation has 30 years of experience in the rehabilitation of tortured and war-traumatised people in Finland. Our Centre for Psychotraumatology is the only one in Finland that provides rehabilitation not only for adults but also children, young people and families.


Read more: 30 years of rehabilitation of torture survivors living in Finland
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