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WHO: Gaza health sector being brought ‘to its knees’

Image from a Gaza hopital's pharmacy room on 23 May, 2017 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Image from a Gaza hopital's pharmacy room on 23 May, 2017 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

This week the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement warning that electricity cuts and continued shortages of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza are further restricting the access of 2 million Palestinians to critical healthcare.

The WHO stated that:

at least 30 hospitals, 70 primary health care centres and a blood blank are at risk of full or partial closure due to continued power outages and not enough fuel or spare parts for back-up generators

Conditions in Gaza have quickly deteriorated after the closure of the Gaza Power Plant in mid-April and the reduction in the electricity supply from Israel to Gaza since late June.

“Without electricity, we have no ventilation during surgeries. This puts patients at increased risk of bacterial infections,” said Dr Marwan Abu Saada, Head of Surgery at Shifa Hospital.

Gaza: 2,500 patients ‘in danger’ with no access to medical care

Hospitals and health facilities face 18 to 20 hours of daily blackouts from the main grid. The WHO’s statement emphasises the severe impact this is having on the delivery of healthcare in Gaza, resulting in reduced sterilisation and cleaning of facilities, restricted access to desalinated water and diagnostic services, extended waiting times for surgery and damaged equipment.

The WHO also highlights the low levels of essential medicines in Gaza. Last week the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported that 36% of essential medicines and 32% of medical supplies are at zero stock, meaning that less than a month’s supply was available.

Dr Gerald Rockenshaub, head of WHO’s office in the occupied Palestinian territory said:

Deep power cuts, the lack of fuel for generators for hospitals, and the shortage in medicines and supplies are placing more lives at risk every day and bringing Gaza’s health sector to its knees

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