WHO concerned over increasingly overwhelmed health services in Gaza Strip

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Gaza, Apr 21: Mass demonstrations in Gaza have left at least 33 Palestinians dead and more than 4279 injured since March 30, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The escalating violence has also led to the injury of 41 health staff, of whom 3 were injured by bullets, with 13 ambulances damaged by bullets and tear gas, a WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region report said on Saturday

“The deteriorating humanitarian situation is extremely worrying. Hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed with the influx of injured patients. With further escalations expected during the coming weeks, the increasing numbers of injured patients requiring urgent medical care is likely to devastate Gaza’s already weakened health system, placing even more lives at risk,’ said Dr Gerald Rockenschaub, WHO’s Head of Office for the West Bank and Gaza.

“We are especially concerned over the impact of the violence on health care workers and ambulances, especially in this current context,” added Dr Rockenschaub. “Health services in Gaza are already
extremely limited due to chronic shortages of medicines, medical disposables, and inadequate supplies of electricity and fuel for emergency generators in hospitals.”

In response to increasing health needs, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has established 5 medical camps equipped with emergency supplies to stabilize injuries before referring them to nearby hospitals. The medical camps are staffed with up to 10 doctors and 15 nurses, supported by volunteers, and ambulances are on stand-by.

Each camp is equipped with first aid medication, and had 3-4 beds; mattresses were also used to support the increasing number of casualties. They are complemented by 5 advanced medical posts managed by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. An additional 5 primary health centres were opened to provide support.

However, shortages of medicines and medical supplies are impeding the ability of health authorities to effectively respond to the immediate needs of casualties. The Palestinian Ministry of Health and health partners need urgently to replenish 75 types of essential medicines, 190 types of essential medical disposables.

To fill critical gaps, WHO and health partners are currently in the process of delivering 10 types of essential medicines and 16 types of medical disposables to meet emergency medical needs.

“WHO continues to monitor the situation and identify urgent health needs that are required to save lives. However, without additional funding for trauma and surgical medicines and supplies, very little
can be done. WHO and health partners urgently require US$ 4.4 million to respond to immediate emergency needs in Gaza. Further funding will be needed for emergency preparedness and response over the comings
weeks as the demonstrations and clashes continue,” said Dr Rockenschaub.