Medical crisis in the Gaza strip

 

Surgeries have been cancelled or delayed, and medicine supplies have run out

By Nasser Najjar, Correspondent | Published  June 20, 2011

Gulf News

No end to ordeal

  • Image Credit: Nasser Najjar/Gulf News
  • Abdul Samee Morshid, 52, waits in his wheelchair after his dialysis session. Morshid was told that medicines that had been prescribed to him would not be available owing to shortages (left). Lack of treatment: Patients at a hospital. Shortage of medical supplies has affected basic health services in the Gaza Strip. Far right: Empty shelves at a medicine store. About 178 types of medications and 123 types of medical supplies are not available, according to a Ministry of Health official (right).

Gaza: Abdul Samee Morshid, 52, was sitting worried and gloomy in his wheelchair after finishing his dialysis session, because he was told that he couldn’t have his medical prescription since there was a shortage of medicine.

Morshid said, “The doctor wrote these medicines over three weeks ago, but they are not available in the public pharmacy. I might find some of these medicines in a private pharmacy but it will cost me around 60 shekels (Dh60) which I don’t have.” He said. “I’m unemployed and sick. I don’t know what to do.”

Morshid isn’t the only one who is suffering from this problem — the entire Gaza strip is facing shortages of medicines. Nasser Dahman, an administrator at the kidney department in Al Shifa hospital said, “We face a major crisis in kidney medicines and supplies that have affected around 200 patients.”

‘Emergency measures’

The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip said it was forced to adopt “emergency measures” due to the “disastrous” state of the health service in the coastal enclave.

“A total of 178 types of medications and 123 types of medical supplies have already run out and others have reached their expiration date,” Ahmad Al Ashi, public relations officer at the Ministry of Health said.

“Surgeries were forced to be cancelled or delayed indefinitely while basic health services have been suspended,” Al Ashi said.

Several organisations have promised to donate medicines to the ministry, including the Turkish Red Crescent and the Red Cross.

Officials said the delivery will include several types of supplies, including medicines for heart and kidney conditions, cancer and other chronic diseases. The international humanitarian group Oxfam said that shortage of medicines was due to the failure in coordination between the Ramallah and Gaza health authorities despite the unity agreement between the divided governments which was signed over a month ago in Cairo.

The Ministry of Health, which is run by Hamas, said in a press statement that the shortage of medicines and medical supplies has led to a severe crisis.

However, Nabeel Sha’ath, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, announced last week that the Palestinian National Authority would immediately send a shipment of medicines.

Bassem Na’eem, the Minister of Health, said: “The Israeli occupation is fully responsible for the deterioration in the health situation in the Gaza Strip”.

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