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“Health Services in Gaza Decimated: Medical Staff Exhausted and Patients Suffering Amidst Ongoing Israeli Offensive”


Health Services in Gaza Decimated: Medical Staff Exhausted and Patients Suffering Amidst Ongoing Israeli Offensive

The health services in Gaza are facing a catastrophic situation as medical staff struggle to cope with the ongoing Israeli offensive and the acute humanitarian crisis. After three months of war, medical professionals are exhausted, and patients are suffering due to a lack of facilities and medicine. The direct casualties of Israel’s military offensive have received much attention, but medical specialists are increasingly concerned about the indirect victims of the war.

Tens of thousands of people in Gaza with chronic life-threatening illnesses have gone without treatment for months, leaving their bodies weakened by malnutrition, cold, and fatigue. Doctors describe a heartbreaking situation where they have nothing to offer patients, conducting amputations without anesthesia and watching children die of cancers because of a lack of facilities and medicine.

Dr. Subhi Sukeyk, the director general of oncology for Gaza, explains the dire situation, stating, “We have nothing to give them. We cannot operate, and we have no drugs at all. There are people with cancers that are attacking their liver, bones, lungs. I have to explain their condition to them and that there is nothing we can do.”

The situation is worsened by the fact that only 15 out of the 36 hospitals in Gaza remain open, with just three undamaged. Palestinian health officials estimate that 350,000 people in Gaza have chronic diseases and lack almost all medication. Psychological illnesses are also a major concern, as drugs are almost exhausted, along with medicine to treat high blood pressure.

The crowded and unsanitary conditions in Gaza have led to the rapid spread of diseases such as hepatitis A. Hussein Awda, who has been living in a UN vocational training college since his home was destroyed at the beginning of the war, describes the dire situation, saying, “Everyone is coughing. The children all have diarrhea or chest infections, and there is a lot of hepatitis A now too.”

Reaching medical care is a major problem in Gaza due to the lack of fuel caused by restrictions imposed by Israel. One UN administrator in Khan Younis even had to look for a donkey to transport his father, who was having a heart attack, to the hospital. Communications blackouts, some imposed by Israel, also prevent those in need from calling ambulances.

The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) faces challenges in providing medical assistance, as they cannot enter Israeli military zones due to the risk of being fired upon. This leaves many people, including women in labor, without access to medical care. Ambulances have been destroyed or damaged in the fighting, further limiting their ability to reach those in need.

The Israeli offensive in Gaza has resulted in a significant number of casualties, with nearly 25,000 people killed, about two-thirds of them women or children. Israel claims to try to avoid civilian casualties but accuses Hamas of using the local population as human shields. The population of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, has more than quadrupled, putting immense strain on the limited medical facilities available.

Efforts are being made to reopen al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest, which was largely shut down after raids and occupation by Israeli troops. However, the hospital still faces challenges due to shortages of fuel, power, and medicine. The situation is further exacerbated by the limited ability to leave Gaza for treatment. Patients requiring chemotherapy were previously treated in Israel but have been unable to do so since the outbreak of the conflict.

Medical facilities in Gaza are overwhelmed with displaced people seeking shelter, making it difficult to provide palliative care for the dying. Limited resources and essential supplies result in excruciating pain for burn victims and other patients. The situation is dire, and medical professionals are calling for more aid and supplies to reverse the degrading humanitarian situation in Gaza.

The conflict shows no signs of ending soon, with Israeli officials vowing to continue until their war aims are achieved. Dr. Sukeyk expresses hope that the war will end soon, stating, “Gaza people deserve to live like others and do not deserve to die at any moment, like now.” The international community must take action to address the dire situation in Gaza and ensure that the necessary medical aid reaches those in need.

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