The Palestinian Center warns of the collapse of the health sector in the Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights is following with great concern the health conditions in the Gaza Strip, and seriously warns of a catastrophic deterioration that may affect the Strip in the event of an outbreak of the new Corona virus, Covid-19, in it, especially after the discovery of 4 new cases of the Coronavirus inside the Gaza Strip from those not quarantined. The center also fears the collapse of the already fragile and worn out health sector, as a result of the blockade policy imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities on the sector for 14 years, and confirms that the shortage of medicines and medical supplies, and the electricity crisis resulting from the stoppage of operation of the power plant after the occupying Israeli authorities prohibited the supply of fuel needed to operate it. It will stop the provision of medical services to about 2 million Palestinians who live in poor living conditions in the Gaza Strip, which is classified as the most overcrowded region in the world.


According to the center's follow-up, the Government Media and Information Center in the Gaza Strip announced, in a press conference yesterday evening, Monday 24/8/2020, that 4 cases of Coronavirus were recorded without quarantine, and they are from one family living in the Maghazi Camp in the Central Governorate. He added that the Ministry of Health and the concerned teams, upon confirmation of the injuries, carried out their health procedures with the cases discovered in accordance with the approved protocol. The Media Center indicated that a set of measures have been taken to preserve the safety and health of the community, including imposing a complete curfew on all governorates of the Gaza Strip, suspending work and not working in all facilities for a period of 48 hours, including official and private workplaces, educational institutions, and closing mosques, markets and wedding halls. Clubs and the prevention of gatherings, in order to limit the epidemic, identify potential places of infection and deal with contact cases.


According to the Ministry of Health sources, the number of cases infected with Coronavirus in the Gaza Strip since 3/15/2020 has reached 114, of which 72 have been cured, while 41 cases are still active and under clinical care in the isolation hospital, and one case died. The number of people quarantined in quarantine centers is 2,210, without symptoms of the disease, distributed over 16 quarantine centers, in all governorates.


The health facilities in the Gaza Strip are already suffering from a serious deterioration resulting from the policy of blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities on the strip for 14 years, and also as a result of the repercussions of the internal Palestinian division and political rivalries. This resulted in the fragility of the health system in the Gaza Strip, a permanent shortage of essential medicines and medical devices, and a shortage of specialized medical staff, which made it, in normal times, unable to meet the basic medical needs of the residents of the Strip. The deterioration of health facilities increased as a result of the electricity crisis that resulted from the suspension of the operation of the power plant on 8/18/2020, due to the Israeli authorities' ban on supplying the fuel needed to operate it on 8/10/2020.


D. Ashraf Al Qidra, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said that before the discovery of new cases, the ministry was suffering from a shortage of the necessary examination strips to detect the Coronavirus, and it also needed to urgently equip more intensive care rooms, respirators, devices for diagnosing people with Coronavirus, and crews Prevention designed to protect medical staff, protective glasses, medicines and medical consumables to counter the Coronavirus. Al-Qudra added that hospitals and medical centers are currently suffering from a serious shortage of 45% from the list of essential medicines, 31% of medical consumables, and 65% of laboratory and blood bank supplies.


The Center’s researchers monitored the impact of long hours of power cuts to health facilities. Dean Mushtaha, Director of the Laboratories Department at the Ministry of Health, stated that the power outages negatively affect the performance of laboratories and blood banks, and lead to the failure to complete the required laboratory tests, indicating that laboratory equipment needs constant electrical current, especially samples that need to be stored as test materials. Coronavirus, which is stored at a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius, which exposes it to spoilage.


Dr. warned. Nabil Al-Barqouni, head of the nurseries network in the Gaza Strip, revealed the repercussions of the power cut on (120) newborns in the nurseries in the Gaza Strip hospitals, noting that the seven nurseries in Gaza hospitals are all powered by electric power. Dr. Al-Barqouni said that the frequent power cuts and the use of alternative energy cause damage to devices such as nurseries, resuscitation devices and ventilators for newborns, which affects the lives of newborns, and causes complications for them, and sometimes leads to death.


And Dr. Abd al-Salam Sabah, Director General of Hospitals at the Ministry of Health, said that a prolonged power outage will greatly affect the scheduled surgeries in the operating departments, which average 3,864 operations per month, ranging from small, medium and large, to be performed in (48) operating rooms distributed over Hospitals in the Gaza Strip, pointing out that this poses a danger to patients in intensive care departments, in which the occupancy rate of beds is 84%, and these patients live on ventilators. Dr. added. Sabah said that power cuts and fuel shortages greatly affect the hemodialysis departments in Gaza hospitals, which have only 131 dialysis machines, indicating that the number of patients who wash the kidneys in the governorates of the Gaza Strip is 923.


The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and in light of the fear of the collapse of health conditions in the Gaza Strip, and the inability of the health system in the sector to deal with patients in the event of the spread of the Corona virus, it:


  • Emphasizes that the primary responsibility for providing medical supplies to the residents of the Gaza Strip rests with Israel, and it must take all necessary preventive measures available to combat the spread of infectious diseases and epidemics, in accordance with Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
  • It calls on the international community and the World Health Organization to put pressure on Israel to force it to abide by its duties, and to allow all medical needs to be brought into the Gaza Strip, especially medical devices and equipment necessary for the medical examination of the Corona virus.
  • The international community calls for immediate and urgent intervention to pressure Israel to allow the supply of the fuel needed to operate the power plant.
  • It calls on the international community and humanitarian organizations to provide aid and assistance to the health system in the Gaza Strip, and to work to provide the medical supplies needed by hospitals, to help counter the spread of the Coronavirus.
  • He calls on the departments of the Ministry of Health in Ramallah and Gaza to coordinate between them and unify efforts to confront the spread of the Coronavirus.
  • He calls on the Ministry of Health in Gaza to publish information about infection with the Coronavirus, and how to access health services first.
  • It calls on the authorities in the Gaza Strip to take measures to ensure the preservation of the safety and health of society, and calls on citizens to understand the preventive measures imposed by the authorities and required by the current circumstances in order to avoid the spread of diseases and epidemics, and to abide by them.


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