Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Hundreds of Palestinian patients at risk because of Israeli siege


Basen Naim writes from Gaza behalf of the Palestinian Ministry of Health

Israel’s tight siege imposed on Gaza, the closure of its borders, the prevention of patients from crossing the border passages to receive medical treatment abroad, the prevention of entry of medicines and medical disposables into Gaza all put at risk the lives of hundreds of Palestinian patients. The health sector in Gaza is at its worst.

This being the tragic situation in Gaza the Ministry of Health would appeal to the International Community to take an immediate action to put an end to this catastrophe which threatens the health sector to collapse. Yesterday a 12- year-old child: Tamer El Yazji died because the Israeli occupation prevented him from leaving the Strip to get medical treatment after developing acute complications of encephalitis. Two days earlier Nael Al Kurdi, a Cancer patient died among his family after he had cried loud urging the world to do something to allow him to get medical treatment he needs abroad, but his cries went in vain!.

The total number of people who died as a result of the borders closure since last June 2007 has risen to 44. Prevention of patients from traveling and prevention of entry of food, milk formula, and fuel is an organized crime committed by the Israeli occupation to exhaust and destroy the health sector, as part of the Israeli policy to kill and humiliate our people.

These practices are real war crimes. The International community should be held responsible for this tragic situation in Gaza and must put pressure on Israel to lift its siege and save the lives of patients who will inevitably die as a result of a barbarian inhuman policy that violates the basic right of patients to medical treatment, as laid down in all human laws and conventions.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health calls on all international community organizations, Human Rights Associations, the ICRC and the WHO to have a coordinated stance in this respect, and to stand to their commitments to stop Israel’s crimes against our patients. The Arab World and the Islamic World should meet their obligations and help the Palestinian people in their current crisis. The Israeli siege is the prime obstacle against delivering health care services to our patients in Gaza.

We would also call on all free and honest media means to report and reveal such Israeli cruel practices against the Gaza patients and expose the ugly face of Israel which it tries to hide behind lies and false allegations.

The Current Situation in the MOH as a result of the Siege imposed on Gaza.


  • 85 items of essential drugs are at 0 stocks
  • 138 items of essential drugs are at (1 month – 3 months stock)
  • 12 items of essential psychiatric drugs are at 0 stocks (This worsens the patients’ health status, increases prospects of committing suicide, and flurs family problems.)


  • Almost at 0 stock: example: medical files, examination forms, (the forms are being used several times for more that one case, thereby preventing accurate documentation of case information).
  • X-ray bags and sterilization bags are at 0 sticks


0 stock

Medical gases

The occupation delays and prevents their entry especially the Nitrose Gas used in Anesthesia for surgery. The available quantities suffice for 2 weeks only. Afterwards the theatres will be totally closed down.

Cloth and dressings

There is a severe shortage in this item The available quantity hardly suffices for the dead cover sheets and hospital bed covers.

Maintenance dept

Suffers from severe shortage in : spare parts for medical equipment (Israel prevents their entry on the pretext that they are not humanitarian items), periodic maintenance is completely on hold for lifts , electrical generators , washing machines, water pumps, and refrigerators, etc. Non-functioning medical equipment especially hemodialysis machines and cardiac equipment in ICU puts at risk the lives of patients.

Foods for patients

Oils, and died beans are at 0 stock and some items will suffice for weeks only. Fruits and vegetables are at 0 stock in all hospitals and in the event Map UK aid arrives the items will suffice for 2 weeks.

Cleaning detergents

The stock suffices for 2 weeks only and there is no budget to provide the needs nor to pay the cleaning companies’ contracts. This will impact negatively on the cleanliness and sanitation status of hospitals.

Diesel and natural gas

The stock of these items is about 20% and will run for less than 15 days, while in the normal conditions the MOH needs 80.000 liters of fuel each month when there is a smooth flow of electrical power supply. However, if the power supply is cut off for 3-4 days the need will rise to 200.000 liters of fuel.

Cutting off of electricity will lead to a disastrous catastrophe and will kill a lot of patients, the ICU rooms; the neonatology, burns units, the ICU, children’s vaccines, foods, and public health will be severely devastated. Patients on ventilators (3-4% of all patients of Gaza) and children with cerebral palsy who are in need of special machines to drain the secretions all day long are at severe risk. lab and blood bank needs, Oxygen concentrators, and the capacity of drainage depts. and X -Ray departments will stop by 50% . Further, a number of surgical operations will be stopped completely, hemodialysyis machines will be stopped and hundreds of patients will be in real danger of death.

Medical disposables

Severe shortage

Lab materials and blood bank materials

In October the stocks level was 60 items of solutions for hormones and drug level in blood test and liver enzymes test.

Statistics on patients and patients who died at checkpoints as a results of preventing them from leaving the Gaza Strip

During November
  • 13 dead on checkpoints
  • 44 dead as a result of siege from June till to date
  • 600-700 patients need to travel to get medical treatment on a monthly basis
  • 250-300 patients need urgent medical treatment and any delay jeopardizes their lives
  • In addition there are 900 Cancer and Renal Failure patients
During October 2007
  • 253 patients were prevented from traveling outside Gaza
  • 190 patients are under consideration by Israel and are in the “Rejected” Category”
  • 45% is the percentage of rejected patients suffering from ophthalmic diseases, orthopedic, vertebral column, Cancer, and hematology diseases.
  • From 1/11/07 till 7/11/2007 the number of rejected patients was 19 and the number of patients who received no replies from the Israeli side was 39.
  • 34 cases were allowed to cross Eretz from Thursday to Monday: 5-6 cases daily
  • 39 patients are under consideration by the Israeli side.
  • 11 patients received no replies.
Cancer patients
Four hundred and fifty patients in Gaza Strip 35% of them are children and 25% are women.
These are forbidden to leave Gaza to get medical treatment, to continue treatment, or to undergo surgery. A large part of Cancer patients have no access to their medications because the Cancer Drugs have been prevented to enter.

Renal failure patients
Four hundred patients are undergoing renal dialysis three times a week. Due to the siege and the breaking down of some machines because the Israeli occupation does not allow entry of spare part, the number of renal dialysis sessions have been reduced to 2 sessions a week .This has had bad effects on their general health.

Cardiac patients
Some 400-450 patients suffer from severe shortage in cardiology drugs. The breaking down of some therapeutic and diagnostic equipment in cardiology departments has worsened the situation.

Hemodialysis machines
The MOH has 69 machines distributed to 4 hospitals. 20 machine are currently out of order, because Israel prevents entry of spare parts . 3 equipment have exceeded its provisional life time (expiry date) and is likely to break down at any time.

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