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Israel's siege on Gaza stopping kidney patients' access to medicine

Gaza health ministry warns of 'unprecedented' shortage of medicines, medical supplies

Over the past two months, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip has repeatedly warned of the dangers of running out of the hormone erythropoietin, which helps treat patients with kidney failure and symptoms from anaemia who are not yet on dialysis.

Dr Alaa Helles, director of pharmacy at the Ministry of Health, said lack of access to the hormone will lead to serious consequences for patients with renal failure and chronic renal failure.

He explained that blood transfusions are not without risk, especially for those who are preparing for transplants, but if patients are unable to access the hormone the process can be disrupted completely as it causes haemoglobin levels to reduce and patients to be unwell.

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In the Gaza Strip, there are 1,050 patients who receive haemodialysis in five central centres in the Strip, and they need more than 10,000 injections of the hormone each month.

Israel has imposed a stifling siege on the Gaza Strip since 2007, limiting the supply of medicine, medical equipment and other essentials. Patients are often forced to apply for treatment in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem or abroad in Egypt or further afield. However, access to such treatment is subject to Israeli approvals.

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