Healthcare in Gaza


GAZA, Palestinian Territories — After seven days of “Operation Protective Age,” the mission by the Israeli Defense Force to protect their country against Hamas in Gaza, there is a great deal of damage left to be addressed. The operation has claimed an estimated 170 Palestinian lives and left around 1,200 injured.

The situation is worsened by Hamas, a Palestinian militant Islamic organization that continues to fire rockets into Israel, jeopardizing a cease fire and prolonging the violence. The consequences are felt countrywide as the health care services are beginning to collapse.

Prior to the attacks, Gaza was suffering a lack of medicine and other medical resources, possessing 30 percent less essential equipment than necessary to function. This state has been extremely exacerbated by the current situation, with 200 patients entering the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on a daily basis.

We are making an urgent appeal for $40 million to support the Ministry of Health in providing essential supplies for healthcare sufficient for six months,” said Dr. Ala Alawan, who serves as the regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean for the World Health Organization.

Doctors Without Borders has been involved in assisting the injured, utilizing the clinic they have established in Gaza that specializes in post-operative care. The organization has released statements to the effect of the difficulty it is experiencing in treating as many people as it would like to.

There is added difficulty in minimizing the damage in Gaza because of the restricted border on the Egyptian side. Due to shifts in the government and political ideals, the border has remained largely closed, which makes acquiring resources to aid in the conflict exceptionally challenging.

Ambulances are currently operating at 50 percent of their capability because they are running low on fuel that is typically accessed through a series of tunnels out of Gaza that the Egyptians have recently begun patrolling and cutting off.

“One of the main concerns will be [ensuring there is]the fuel to make sure the hospitals [run]around the clock,” said Christian Cardon, who serves as the head of the Gaza sub-delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross. “We know that there is a shortage of fuel already.”

The news has not been all bad though. On July 13, an Emirati delegation crossed the Egyptian border, bringing medical supplies and a field hospital, expanding Gaza’s capacity to treat the injured. Additionally, various NGOs have donated more than $800,000 to organizations like Doctors Without Borders to assemble medical teams and disperse more medical supplies.

Additionally, Israel has done its part in putting aside the conflict and helping those in need. On July 11, 20 injured Palestinians were evacuated from Gaza and brought to a hospital in Haifa, Israel.

The Israelis have made it clear that later in the week, they will be helping more of the injured, relieving much of the burden on Gaza hospitals.

As the conflict between Israel and the Hamas wages on with neither side willing to make concessions, the more support that hospitals, doctors, and damaged communities can receive, the fewer fatalities will have to be tallied. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and left without basic necessities for survival. Adequate health care is essential so that further damage to the economy and the people of Gaza can be kept to a minimum.

Maggie Wagner

Sources: Doctors Without Borders, Integrated Regional Information Networks News, Middle East Eye, Asharq Al-Awsat, I24 News, Washington Post
Photo: Voice of America


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