World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Sunday confirmed more than 449 attacks on health services in Gaza and the West Bank since Oct. 7, saying “now the work of the health workers is impossible.”
Speaking at a special session organised by the WHO executive board on the health situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, Tedros emphasised the catastrophic impact of conflicts on the health situation in Gaza, Anadolu Agency reports.
“More than 17,000 people are reported to have died in Gaza, including 7,000 children and we don’t know how many are buried under the rubble of their homes. More than 46,000 injuries have been reported,” he said.
As many as “1.9 million people have been displaced – almost the entire population of the Gaza Strip – and are looking for shelter anywhere they can find it. Nowhere and no one is safe in Gaza,” he added.
He emphasised that health should never be a target, saying on average, there is one shower unit for every 700 people and one toilet for every 150 people, and there are worrying signals of epidemic diseases including bloody diarrhoea, and jaundice. According to him, only 14 hospitals out of the original 36 are partially functional.
“As more and more people move to a smaller and smaller area, overcrowding, combined with the lack of adequate food, water, shelter and sanitation, are creating the ideal conditions for disease to spread,” he said.
The WHO chief emphasised their support for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for a permanent and urgent humanitarian cease-fire to ensure the delivery of critical aid to those in urgent need in the Gaza Strip.
“A cease-fire is the only way to truly protect and promote the health of the people of Gaza. I deeply regret that the Security Council was unable to adapt a resolution on such a cease-fire last Friday,” he said, referring to the US veto blocking the international calls for a truce.
Israel, in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Palestinian group Hamas, launched air and ground attacks on the besieged enclave, killing thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, and forced some 1.9 million people to flee their homes. Gazans also face severe shortages of food, water and other basic goods as only a trickle of aid is allowed in.