The organization Medecin Sans Frontieres [Doctors Without Borders] has emphasised that the continued Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip which has lasted for several years has had a negative impact on the health sector and provision of medical services to the sick and wounded.
During a press conference in Gaza on Tuesday, 21 September, the head of the MSF mission in the Palestinian territories, John Locke, said: "The siege and the closure of the crossings has had serious implications for the health sector and the medical services provided to citizens due to a lack of medical supplies, medicines and fuel" adding that "despite it being a year and a half on from the most recent Israeli war and the opening of crossing points to allow in aid sent by the various international non-governmental organizations, the conditions of the health services within the sector remains fragile."
Since the embargo imposed on it more than four years ago, the health sector in the Gaza Strip has suffered from a severe shortage of medicines and medical supplies needed for patients and health facilities. Mr Locke said that the million and a half Palestinians in the sector were still being deprived of medical services because of the blockade and even new-born babies are subjected to collective punishment. He also said that they find it very difficult to gain access to medical supplies in hospitals and health centres, as do out-patients that need treatment abroad.
There were 1,200 cases of medical requests to exit Gaza for treatment abroad which received approval, however, 25% of these were prevented from leaving, despite their need for treatment. Patients needing artificial limbs are made to wait several months before being allowed to leave.
Mr Locke said that some medical equipment stores suffer from chronic scarcity, "There are about 100 varieties of medicines not available in the central pharmacy of the Ministry of Health, not to mention the impact of power cuts on hospitals and primary care centres because of a lack of fuel." He said there was an acute demand for doctors with expertise and high proficiency.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad