PCHR: “Call for Intervention before It is too Late: PCHR Warns that Gaza’s Healthcare System Would Collapse in case of Coronavirus Outbreak”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza is following with great concern the health conditions in the Gaza Strip and seriously warns of a catastrophic deterioration that may afflict the Strip in the event of an outbreak of the new Coronavirus Covid-19.

The center is concerned that the health system in the Gaza Strip will not be able to deal with patients in the event of an epidemic.

According to PCHR’s research, health facilities in the Gaza Strip are already suffering from a serious deterioration as a result of the policy of the blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities on the Gaza Strip 13 years ago, and also resulted from the repercussions of the internal Palestinian division and political conflicts.

This resulted in the fragility of the health system in the Gaza Strip, a permanent shortage of the list of essential drugs and medical devices, and the shortage of specialized medical staff, which made it, in normal times, unable to meet the basic medical needs of the population of the Strip.

According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, the Israeli blockade prevented the ministry from supplying a number of new medical devices or importing spare parts for malfunctioning medical devices. The medical devices crisis presented a major obstacle to the development or continuation of work in the sector’s hospitals and medical centers, in a manner appropriate to the health needs of the population.

In a statement issued on 21/3/2020, the Ministry confirmed its urgent need for respiratory equipment and the provision of intensive care rooms, medicines, medical consumables, and preventive supplies to counter the Coronavirus.

This confirmation came after the Israeli authorities allowed the entry of limited quantities of medical supplies into the Gaza Strip on 3/18/2020, where special equipment was introduced to diagnose those infected with the Coronavirus, in addition to hundreds of protective kits intended to protect medical personnel and protective glasses, after a request Submitted by the World Health Organization.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza announced that the number of cases of Coronavirus infection in the Gaza Strip reached two cases, after examining 118 samples, the results of which were 116 negative (free from the virus), and two positive cases. The number of cases entered into private quarantine centers reached 1399, distributed among 22 centers in all governorates of the Gaza Strip, and the number of cases subject to home quarantine reached 1969 cases [1].

Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 1967, in a statement dated 19/19/2020, expressed his deep concern about the potential impact of the emerging Coronavirus on the people of the Gaza Strip. He added that the health care system in Gaza is falling apart even before the outbreak of the pandemic due to a lack of stocks of essential medicines, pollution of drinking water to a large extent, high levels of malnutrition, poor living conditions and population density. Link warned that a possible widespread outbreak in Gaza would exacerbate pressures on trapped health workers [2].

Jaimie McGoldrick, the Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, also considered, in a statement on 21/2020, that the arrival of the Coronavirus in the Gaza Strip may be frightening due to the overpopulation and limited capacity of the health system.

He added: “We are currently concerned with regard to Gaza, it is a complex region, due to the long-term blockade and the restrictions that make matters difficult.” He believed that the arrival of the virus in the Gaza Strip would turn it into “something like an incubator when people get stuck in a densely populated area, and the health system in it suffers from a lack of funding and scarcity of resources and devices” [3].

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and in light of the fear of the collapse of health conditions in the Gaza Strip, and the inability of the health system in the Gaza Strip to deal with patients in the event of the spread of the Coronavirus, it:

Emphasizes that the primary responsibility for providing medical supplies to the population of the Gaza Strip lies with Israel, and must take all necessary preventive measures available to combat the spread of infectious diseases and epidemics, in accordance with Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

– Calls on the international community and the World Health Organization to put pressure on Israel to compel it to comply with its obligations, and to allow the entry of all medical needs into the Gaza Strip, especially medical devices and equipment necessary for the medical examination of the Corna virus.

– Calls on the international community and humanitarian organizations to provide aid and assistance to the health system in the Gaza Strip, and to work to provide the medical supplies needed by hospitals, to help cope with the spread of the Coronavirus.

– Calls on the two departments of the Ministry of Health in Ramallah and Gaza to the necessity of coordination between them and uniting efforts to confront the spread of the Corona \virus.

– Calls on the Palestinian National Authority to establish a unified higher emergency committee that includes all Palestinian governorates, follows the measures taken to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, and works to spread information about infections, and how to access health services first hand.

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[1] – For the full report issued on 23/3/2020, see the website of the Ministry of Health – Gaza, on the link:

https://www.moh.gov.ps/portal/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Corona-23-03-4.pdf

[2] – For the full statement issued on 19/3/2020, see the United Nations News website, at the electronic link:

https://news.un.org/ar/story/2020/03/1051642

[3] – For the full interview published on March 21, 2020, see the United Nations News website, at the following link:

https://news.un.org/ar/story/2020/03/1051802

(Source / 25.03.2020) 

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