Wed 29 Nov 2023 9:49 am - Jerusalem Time
"World Health": Aid shipments entering Gaza during the truce are a drop in the ocean
Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said that aid shipments entering Gaza despite the extension of the truce are “a drop in the ocean.”
Yesterday (Tuesday), Al-Mandhari stressed that “requirements and procedures from the Israeli side impede the entry of sufficient quantities of aid,” despite the accumulation of large quantities of medical supplies on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.
He added that before the war, 500 trucks were entering the Gaza Strip daily carrying various types of aid, and so far only 1,600 trucks have entered the Gaza Strip, of which only approximately 400 carried medical supplies and medicines.
He also stressed that the need for medicines "is multiplying in a disturbing and frightening way, with the increase in those injured as a result of attacks, and the increase in injuries among health personnel, as a result of the demolition of infrastructure and the lack of clean drinking water."
Al-Mandhari pointed out that there is a need not only for medicines; but also “medical supplies, including laboratory samples, surgical tools, first aid kits, fluids, and medications for chronic diseases, such as blood pressure, diabetes, and heart diseases, and medications related to surgical operations, such as anesthesia medications,” stressing that the World Health Organization’s stock of medical supplies in Gaza has been almost completely consumed.
The WHO official described the situation in the Gaza Strip as tragic, and said that hundreds of thousands suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.
He pointed out that fears at the beginning of the war on Gaza on October 7th focused on patients in hospitals, but now “there is real concern for the remaining health personnel.”
He added: “In Gaza, there are more than two million displaced people who lack shelter, including nearly a million who live in institutions of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and lack the basic necessities of life. They have only one bathroom for every 220 people, and one shower unit.” For every 4,500 people.
Al-Mandhari said that acute respiratory diseases were spreading, infecting 100,000, while 70,000 suffered from diarrhea, and skin diseases such as scabies had spread, infecting nearly 40,000 people.
He added that there are about half a million pregnant and breastfeeding women and children who need urgent therapeutic and preventive nutritional interventions.
Al-Mandhari also revealed that before the outbreak of war, there were 7,000 children under the age of five suffering from wasting, and 4,000 suffering from severe wasting. Pointing out that these numbers have now increased by 27 percent, reaching 10,000 children.
He also explained that 450,000 people in Gaza are suffering from mental illnesses, and that the only hospital specialized in treating them in the Strip has stopped working.
He said that the crisis is exacerbated by “the fragility and weakness of the health system in Gaza. Out of 36 hospitals, there are 9 hospitals that operate at partial capacity, sometimes providing simple, basic services, such as first aid, and cannot provide more than this.”
He added that the manpower working in the medical sector in Gaza has declined to 30 percent, which makes the situation worse.
Al-Mandhari pointed out that the lack of fuel hinders the provision of medical services, and gave an example of Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in the Strip, which he said needs 17,000 liters of fuel daily: “Now no fuel reaches it.”
He stressed that “the quantities of fuel entering the sector do not meet the needs of health institutions; In addition to the needs of electricity generation, water desalination, communications, and bakeries. Pointing out that with the onset of winter, the need for fuel will increase.
He also expressed his deep concern about hospitals in northern Gaza, saying that they are “suffering real suffering.” Because the Israeli forces obstruct the entry of various types of aid that all international organizations are trying to deliver, and this is a major challenge.”
Al-Mandhari confirmed that during the five days of the truce, more than 4,000 trucks carrying various types of medical aid entered from the World Health Organization and other organizations, such as the Egyptian Red Crescent, as well as countries including Qatar and Turkey.
He pointed out that "the World Health Organization's share of this aid exceeds 60 metric tons of food, treatments and medical aid."
Al-Mandhari called for "urgent, immediate and unconditional entry of all aid into the Gaza Strip, and the provision of the necessary protection for health institutions so that they can carry out their work, in addition to protecting workers in the health sector, otherwise it will be a certain disaster."
The Palestinian Minister of Health, Mai Al-Kaila, had recently warned of “the catastrophic epidemiological and health situation in the Gaza Strip; Especially in shelter centers, such as schools, hospitals, refugee camps, and displaced persons’ gatherings, stressing that they lack the basic necessities of life, such as water, food, and medicines.