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WHO chief decries siege of Gaza hospital, urges immediate access for patients

February 18, 2024 at 9:02 am

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Dubai on February 12, 2024 [RYAN LIM/AFP via Getty Images]

The head of the World Health Organisation on Sunday voiced grave concerns over the deteriorating situation at a hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, stressing the urgent need for access to patients and medical facilities, Anadolu news agency reported.

“Nasser hospital in Gaza is not functional anymore, after a weeklong siege followed by the ongoing raid,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X.

Despite concerted efforts by a WHO team and its partners, access to the hospital for assessing patients and critical medical needs was denied, he underlined.

“Both yesterday and the day before, the WHO team was not permitted to enter the hospital to assess the conditions of the patients and critical medical needs, despite reaching the hospital compound to deliver fuel alongside partners,” he said.

According to Tedros, nearly 200 patients still remain within the hospital, with at least 20 needing immediate referral to other healthcare facilities “to receive health care; medical referral is every patient’s right.”

“The cost of delays will be paid by patients’ lives. Access to the patients and hospital should be facilitated,” he urged.

The Palestinian Health Ministry on Friday said at least five patients died at the hospital due to a power outage after the Israeli army raided the facility.

The Israeli army on Thursday stormed the hospital, forcing everyone inside to evacuate and flee for their lives. Yet a small medical team stayed inside to take care of patients in critical condition, who were all held in one building of the hospital by the Israeli army amid a lack of basic needs.

Since 22 January 22, Khan Younis has witnessed a massive Israeli ground invasion, forcing tens of thousands of the city’s residents to flee under heavy Israeli bombardment.

READ: WHO documents 721 attacks on health care in occupied Palestinian territory