Gaza, 10 November, 2023 (GNP): In the midst of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Gaza health crisis is deepening, particularly affecting the chronically ill and those in dire need of medical attention. The conflict, which began on October 7 has resulted in the killing of more than 10,000 civilians.
Israel’s military campaign led to a complete siege on Gaza, leaving the healthcare system in shambles and endangering thousands of lives.
The situation is drawing international attention and calling for urgent action. One significant aspect of this crisis is the impact on chronically ill patients who require specialized medical care.
Hospitals like Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem typically receive around 100 patients per day from Gaza, including those with rare cancers and in need of open heart surgery.
These vital medical services were abruptly halted, and health professionals are struggling to locate and assist their patients.
Amidst the chaos, healthcare providers like Tahreer Azzam at Makassed Hospital are frantically trying to track the well-being of their patients, often resorting to social media to find information.
The situation is heart-wrenching, with reports of children who had received treatment losing their lives in the ongoing hostilities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is advocating for the most vulnerable among the chronically ill to be allowed out of Gaza for treatment. Several countries, including Egypt, Turkiye, and the United Arab Emirates, have offered to take in patients.
Before the conflict, approximately 20,000 patients per year sought permits from Israel to leave Gaza for medical treatment. These patients included children and adults with chronic conditions like cancer and diabetes.
However, Israel’s military campaign has severely restricted the movement of patients, exacerbating their suffering.
Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, the WHO representative for Gaza and the occupied West Bank, has emphasized the dire situation of these patients, noting that while trauma cases rightfully receive attention, the needs of chronically ill patients should not be overlooked.
Besides the most complex cases, around 350,000 individuals in Gaza have chronic health conditions, including cancer and diabetes, and 50,000 pregnant women need medical care. The healthcare system in Gaza, already under strain due to a 16-year Israeli-led blockade, has been battered further by airstrikes, an increase in trauma cases, and a dwindling supply of medicines and fuel.
The situation is particularly critical for around 1,000 patients in Gaza who require kidney dialysis to survive. However, due to the conflict, most of the dialysis machines are unavailable, and patients are in immediate danger.
In this tragic backdrop, approximately 400 patients and their companions who left Gaza for treatment before the conflict have been stranded in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
With limited means of communication due to power shortages in Gaza, they are struggling to get updates on their families and share information about their treatment progress.
The international community is increasingly alarmed by the deepening health crisis and the dire situation faced by these vulnerable individuals in Gaza. Urgent action is needed to provide assistance, medical care, and relief to those affected by this conflict.