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The healthcare situation in Gaza is in disarray and can be described as a humanitarian crisis.
Middle East Science & Health

The healthcare situation in Gaza is in disarray and can be described as a humanitarian crisis.

The World Health Organization reports that the health system in Gaza is still under severe restrictions and is struggling to operate, as Israel continues its military campaign against Hamas fighters in the southern area of the Palestinian territory while maintaining strict control in the northern region.

Richard Peeperkorn, the WHO representative for the occupied Palestinian territory, stated that they and their partners are dedicated to remaining in Gaza and providing aid to the people.

However, with escalating conflicts in Gaza, the amount of aid provided is inadequate to meet the demands. The system for providing humanitarian assistance is on the brink of collapse.

Peeperkorn recently completed a two-week medical mission in Gaza. During a press conference in Geneva, he reported that after 66 days of fighting, the Gaza health system has gone from having 36 operational hospitals to only 11 partially functioning ones, with one in the north and 10 in the south.

He remarked that Northern Gaza appears to be a desolate area, with massive destruction. Despite this, they were taken aback by the number of individuals lying on the streets.

People search through the rubble of damaged buildings following an Israeli air strike on Palestinian houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Dec. 12, 2023.

Individuals are combing through the debris of destroyed structures after an airstrike by Israel on Palestinian homes, amidst the ongoing tension between Israel and the Hamas group in Rafah, located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip on December 12, 2023.

According to Peeperkorn, the team visited Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, which is currently the only operational hospital in the northern region. He observed that the hospital’s hallways and outdoor areas, including the courtyard, all rooms, the library, and even the chapel, were crowded with patients and individuals who had been forced to leave their homes.

The speaker stated that they witnessed numerous trauma cases involving donkey carts, fatalities, and severely injured individuals on foot or in private vehicles. They also mentioned having worked in Afghanistan for 7.5 years and witnessing disturbing scenes, but nothing compared to the chaos and devastation at Al-Ahli Hospital, which they described as a true humanitarian disaster.

Peeperkorn emphasized the importance of exhausting all efforts to maintain the operation of the remaining hospitals. He also stressed the urgent need to protect and restore the health system.

He stated that we cannot bear to forfeit any additional medical centers.

Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) are urging for humanitarian aid to be provided in Gaza. This request comes after a mission, co-led by WHO, the United Nations, and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, was blocked on December 9. The mission’s purpose was to transport critically ill patients and deliver necessary supplies to Al-Ahli Hospital.

According to the WHO, the group experienced delays at an Israeli military checkpoint and health colleagues were held, with one individual allegedly mistreated, physically assaulted, stripped, and searched.

A Palestinian child wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip is brought to a hospital in Rafah, Dec. 12, 2023.

On December 12, 2023, a Palestinian youth who was injured during the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip is transported to a medical facility in Rafah for treatment.

The health organization supported by the U.N. released a statement condemning the obstruction and attacks on humanitarian and health workers. They stated that it is unacceptable to hinder ambulances and harm those providing essential health care. According to international law, health care facilities and ambulances are protected and should be safeguarded at all times.

According to the most recent update from Gaza’s Health Ministry, the death toll in the region is now at 18,205 with 49,645 individuals having sustained injuries. More than 60% of the casualties are women and children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the health condition of numerous Palestinians as severe. According to their findings, there have been approximately 165,000 instances of respiratory infections and over 50,000 cases of diarrhea among children under five in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict. This is significantly higher than the average rate, with a difference of about 40 times.

Some other issues include the existence of lice, numerous cases of skin rashes, chicken pox, meningitis, jaundice, and various other communicable and non-communicable chronic illnesses.

As Peeperkorn was informing reporters, the WHO received information that Israeli forces had forcefully entered the Kamal Adwan health facility in the northern Gaza Strip.

“The hospital is currently undergoing a mandatory evacuation,” stated Christian Lindmeier, spokesperson for the World Health Organization. “There are currently 68 patients in the hospital, including 18 in the intensive care unit and six neonates.”

He stated, “This indicates that another one of these avoidable evacuations is occurring. It is once again rendering a hospital unusable. It is once again forcing the remaining patients who require assistance onto the streets.”

On Monday, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced that the Kamal Adwan health facility’s maternity department was struck, resulting in the alleged deaths of two mothers and multiple injuries.

The hospital is still encircled by Israeli soldiers and tanks, and there have been reports of armed groups engaging in fighting nearby for the past three days.

After facing backlash from WHO and the international community for not providing necessary medical and humanitarian assistance to Gaza, Israel declared on Tuesday that it will allow access to its Nitzana and Kerem Shalom crossings for Gaza.

Elad Goren, the coordinator of government activities in the territories of Israel, expressed confidence that the United Nations has made the necessary preparations to increase the amount of aid reaching Gaza. He stated that this is an important measure that will benefit the region.