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Fuel crisis threatens lives of hundreds of patients in Gaza

Palestinians, who were wounded by Israeli soldiers during a protest, organized to mark 70th anniversary of Nakba, also known as Day of the Catastrophe in 1948, and against United States' plans to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, receive treatments at European Hospital in Gaza City, Gaza on 17 May, 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]
Injured Palestinians can be seen after they were wounded by Israeli soldiers during the Great March of Return in Gaza City, Gaza on 24 May 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]

Health ministry officials in the Gaza Strip have warned that the serious fuel shortage for hospitals and health centres threatens the lives of hundreds of patients in the besieged enclave. Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said that the amount of fuel in stock will only be enough to keep the power on in the hospitals for between two and five days. It would have run out in November, he added, if the ministry hadn’t taken emergency steps to save fuel.

A grant from the UN to provide the Gaza Strip’s hospitals with fuel needed to power the generators which switch on when power cuts of 8-16 hours occur every day has run out. Al-Qudra told Anadolu that if the fuel runs out, Gaza’s hospitals will face “a real, probably deadly, catastrophe.”

There are at least 800 patients with kidney failure who need dialysis three times a week and depend on electricity for this. No fuel for the generators puts their lives at immediate risk. Furthermore, there are around 120 premature babies in incubators as well as nearly 100 patients in intensive care units, all of whom depend on a constant electricity supply.

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Al-Qudra explained that a lack of fuel will also affect routine daily medical services, including thousands of laboratory tests, operations for hundreds of patients, and an average of 150 Caesarean births.

The Gaza Strip has 13 government hospitals and 53 health centres which require 300,000 litres of fuel every month to operate their generators. Al-Qudra pointed out that the health ministry in Gaza has communicated with local, regional and international organisations, including the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, but has not received any response or assurances from anyone concerning the crisis.

Neither the PA nor the Ministry of Health in Ramallah replied to the request for a comment on Al-Qudra’s statements.

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