MAP’s Director of Programmes in Gaza speaks at Labour Party Conference

This week, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) was at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool speaking to Parliamentarians, delegates and the public about the humanitarian emergency in Gaza, and barriers to the right to health of Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees.

MAP’s Director of Programmes in Gaza, Fikr Shalltoot, spoke at Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East’s (LFPME) fringe event titled ‘#ExistenceIsResistance – Supporting Palestine’s Next Generation’, chaired by Richard Burden MP, who had the week before been in the West Bank on a delegation with MAP and Caabu.

Alongside Fikr on the panel were Chris Gunness, Spokesperson for UNRWA; Professor Karma Nabulsi, Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations at Oxford University; and Dr. Mezna Qato, Junior Research Fellow in Middle Eastern History at King’s College Cambridge.

Fikr opened by discussing the severe movement restrictions Palestinians in Gaza face. She described her lengthy journey to get to conference, requiring a visa from the UK, a permit to exit Gaza from Israel and a non-objection letter from Jordan to fly out of Amman – a journey which took five days. Fikr stressed that, by being able to travel out of Gaza at all, she was “one of the lucky ones”. She reflected that Israel restricts the exit of all Palestinians from Gaza with few exceptions: business owners with permits, international NGO staff like herself, and urgent medical cases. “Being able to leave at all is rare for people in Gaza, and most young people have never left Gaza at all” she said. Approval of permits for members of these categories is far from guaranteed, however. With 48% of patients’ exit permit applications either denied or not responded to last year, Fikr stressed that restrictions can have serious consequences for those needing urgent medical care outside of Gaza.

Following the event’s focus on the “next generation” in Palestine, Fikr described life for young people in Gaza: “We are two million people, half are under 15 years old. More than two-thirds are refugees, expelled from our former homes and lands in what was Palestine and is now Israel”.

Starting at birth, high rates of maternal malnutrition means babies in Gaza have increased chance of low birthweight. At birth, if babies need intensive care, they will be treated in a hospital running on back-up generator power for up to 20 hours per day. Fuel for these provided by the UN is running out because of lack of funding, and switching from mains to generator power causes fluctuations which can damage equipment.”

While around the world infant mortality has declined, in Gaza deaths among children aged one year or less have not declined since 2006 – covering the period of Israel’s closure.

If a child gets ill and needs to be treated outside of Gaza, assuming they are able to get a permit to exit from the Israeli Authorities, they may have to do so without their mother or father by their side. In August 2018, almost half of all permit applications for patient companions – including parents trying to accompany their children to appointments for treatment in East Jerusalem or elsewhere in the West Bank – were denied or delayed by Israel. “This means that children’s wards in hospitals in East Jerusalem contain children going through scary treatments for diseases, such as cancer, without their parents with them,” said Fikr. “MAP – and some MPs here who have been on delegations with MAP and Caabu to the West Bank – see new-borns and neonate babies from Gaza in intensive care in Al Makassed Hospital separated for weeks and months from their mothers due to lack of a permit from the occupying power”.

Fikr stressed the importance of thinking not only of children’s physical health, but their mental health too. An 11-year-old child in Gaza has witnessed three major Israeli military offensives. In 2015, UNICEF estimated 300,000 Gaza children need psychosocial care:

They will have never experienced a full day of electricity in their lives, and they are unlikely to have ever left the 40km by 12km Strip. They are now growing up in a place where the economy, healthcare, education, water and sanitation infrastructure are all de-developing. Unemployment among youth is 60%. They will see the daily suffering and struggles of their parents, including how serious health conditions deteriorate while Israel does not give them permits to travel to East Jerusalem for treatment. Last year 46 cancer patients died after this. Imagine watching that happen to your mother.”

Fikr also outlined the mass casualties in Gaza as a result of Israeli military’s shocking use of force against demonstrators at the “Great March of Return”, and outlined how MAP is helping Gaza’s health sector to respond to complex limb injuries.

At the event, MAP made three recommendations for the UK Government to support the health of young Palestinians in Gaza were:

  • Contribute to the UN Humanitarian funding appeal for Gaza, including for vital hospital generator fuel;
  • Prioritise sustainable development work through DfID, including skills and opportunities in the health sector; and
  • Call on Israel to lift Gaza’s closure, in line with calls by UN bodies and the ICRC, and in particular lift restrictions on the movement of patients trying to get to treatment and health workers trying to get to training and opportunities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

MAP was also at the LFPME evening reception – see next week’s Monitor – and will have a stall and be hosting a meeting at the Scottish National Party Conference, on 8 October at the SEC in Glasgow (Confronting Gaza’s health emergency, with a focus on breast cancer: Dr Philippa Whitford MP,  with Neil Sammonds, MAP, Boisdale Room 9am).  If you are attending, see you there!

(Source / 29.09.2018)

WHO: 20% of denied access to medical care are Gazan cancer patients

Patient Gaza

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A fifth or 20% of medical applications submitted in August by patients in the besieged Gaza Strip were denied, by Israel, a permit to leave for medical treatment in East Jerusalem or Israeli hospitals were for cancer patients, according to a monthly report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

On Thursday, WHO published their monthly report on health access for Palestinians in the occupied territories, showing that 18% of the denied applications were for orthopedics and 14% for neurosurgery patients.
Several Palestinian patients have died while waiting for an Israeli permit to get life-saving treatment that is not available in Gaza.
The report said that 152 patient applications (98 male; 54 female), or 7% of the total, were denied permission for health care in August to cross the Erez crossing (Beit Hanoun), between Israel and the northern besieged Gaza Strip; those denied included seven children under the age of 18 years and 23 patients aged 60 years or older.
The report added that 68% of the permit applications were approved, making up 1,484 (781 male; 703 female) of the 2,173 applications.
However, according to the report, the approval rate of permit applications for Palestinians injured by the Israeli army gunfire during the border protests was significantly lower than the overall approval rate, with only three out of 53 applications in August approved (6%), 17 (32%) denied and 33 (62%) delayed.
Additionally, 537 patient applications (342 male; 195 female), or 25% of the total, were delayed access to care, receiving no definitive response to their application by the date of their hospital appointment. Of these, 126 applications were for children under the age of 18 and 47 applications were for patients aged 60 years or older.
WHO reported that of the 537 delayed patients, a quarter (24%) had appointments for orthopedics, 12% for cancer treatment and 7% for ophthalmology. Almost two thirds (67%) of delayed patients submitted their applications more than 15 days prior to their hospital appointment.
Since patients who are seeking medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip need to have at least one companion with them, particularly children and the elderly, out of 2,491 applications to Israel for permits to cross the Erez crossing to accompany patients, 1,301 (52%) patient companion applications were approved, while 256 applications (10%) were denied and 934 (38%) remained pending on the date of the patient’s medical appointment.
According to local organization the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, more than 15 medical patients died in Gaza in 2017 after being denied permits by the Israeli authorities that would have allowed them access to hospitals.

(Source / 28.09.2018)

Gaza health ministry: medicine shortage risks lives of thousands of patients

Palestinian patients undergo kidney dialysis in Gaza City on 26 January 2014 [Mohammed AsadApaimages]

Palestinian patients undergo kidney dialysis in Gaza City on 26 January 2014

The Health Ministry in the occupied Gaza Strip yesterday warned that a mounting, severe shortage of medicines is risking the life of thousands of patients in the blockaded territory, especially those who suffer from chronic diseases, reported Xinhua.

According to Maher Shamiya, director general of the ministry’s Primary Care, “primary Health Care services and their programs and protocols are at risk as the deficit in essential drug lists becomes more acute”.

Gaza hospital suspends services due to fuel shortages - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The official added that around 100 out of 143 Primary Health Care medicines are currently, unavailable, with another 16 liable to run out over the next three months.

In particular, Xinuha added, “Shamiya warned that lack of medicine will deprive patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, of continued treatment for the next three months.”

READ: Power outages to stop health services in Gaza hospital

The official concluded that the situation is “life-threatening” and “complications are expected if the crisis is not resolved”.

Ashraf Al-Qedra, the ministry spokesperson, additionally told Xinhua that Israeli occupation authorities prevent about 60 per cent of Gazan patients from travelling abroad for medical treatment, with 56 patients dying in 2017 after being banned by Israel from leaving for treatment.

The report further noted that “the medical work by the health facilities in the Gaza Strip are at risk of being interrupted by the shortage of fuel needed to operate generators used to cope with frequent power cuts.” Gaza’s residents have only four hours of electricity every half day.

2 million people are deprived of electricity, vital medical care, and clean water in #Gaza

READ: ow.ly/QyoE30eOfV9

MEMO Infographic by QUAD Business House

(Source / 25.09.2018)

Lack Of Medications Threatens Lives Of 425 Kidney Patients

24 SEP
12:51 PM

Dr. Abdullah al-Qishawi, the head of the Kidney Branch at the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza, has warned that the lives of 425 Palestinian patients, including children, who require kidney dialysis, is at a serious risk due to the ongoing Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

Dr. al-Qishawi stated that the Israeli embargo is preventing essential medications and equipment from entering the Gaza Strip, despite the repeated urgent calls and appeals by the Health Ministry to the international community.

He stated that the patients require the dialysis sessions regularly, including those who are scheduled to receive kidney transplant, and have gone through all required preparations, including special medications.

Dr. al-Qishawi added that there are 54 patients who started receiving medications ahead of scheduled kidney transplant surgeries, and are now at risk of serious complications, including death.

Furthermore, Dr. al-Qishawi stated that the serious shortage of medications is compounded by the ongoing power blackouts in the coastal region, and impact the quality of kidney dialysis machines, while the Israeli siege is also preventing the entry of spare parts needed to keep them running.

He said that even when just one machine stops working, the patients are the ones who suffer the consequences, and face serious complications, which would likely lead to death, adding that there are 425 patients in the Gaza Strip, who have kidney failure, and completely depend on dialysis.

Related: Three more patients die due to the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza

(Source / 24.09.2018)

Power outages to stop health services in Gaza hospital

Newborn babies are placed in the incubation department at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City [Apaimages]

Newborn babies are placed in the incubation department at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City

An official at the Palestinian Ministry of Health warned on Sunday that medical services provided by the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip would soon stop due to an ongoing electricity crisis.

Medhat Abbas, director general of the hospital, told a news conference:

Only one week of fuel is available for Al-Shifa Medical Complex, which provides services to half a million patients a year

He added: “This hospital also saved the lives of thousands of Palestinian people injured in the ongoing marches on the security fence.”

He said in a few days “there will be no fuel to run generators used to provide power needed to operate departments and organs of the hospital”.

He warned of the danger of power outages for many departments such as dialysis, intensive care, surgery rooms, outpatient clinics, and sections of radiation.

“The lack of electricity poses a direct threat to the lives of civilians inside the besieged Gaza Strip,” he said.

Abbas added that the donors the Ministry of Health relied on to provide fuel to their hospitals were no longer available.

Home to nearly two million people, the Gaza Strip boasts a total of 13 Ministry-run hospitals and 54 primary healthcare centres that account for roughly 95 percent of all health services in the coastal enclave.

Gaza, which continues to groan under Israeli siege, has struggled with severe electricity shortages since 2006.

(Source / 16.09.2018)

WHO strengthens trauma care services in Gaza

Trauma WHO

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report stating that with support from the European Union, it is replenishing stocks of urgently-needed trauma medicines in the besieged Gaza Strip and providing hands-on training for health staff working in frontline Trauma Stabilization Points (TSPs).

Dr. Gerald Rockenschaub, WHO’s Head of Office for Gaza and the West Bank, said in the report that life-saving medicines and medical supplies to treat more than 100,000 people have been delivered to hospitals and TSPs, filling critical gaps before supplies rapidly deplete as a result of increasing numbers of casualties in the ongoing protests known as “The Great March of Return,” which began on March 30th.
The report stated “The role of health workers at Trauma Stabilization Points is crucial. Health staff in TSPs are usually the first to see wounded patients, and their capacity to resuscitate, stabilize, and treat patients with serious injuries can significantly increase patients’ chances of survival before they are referred to hospital for further medical care.”
“More than 18,000 people have been injured from 30th March until the beginning of September 2018, due the ongoing protests in Gaza. Of the 18,000, more than 8,600 individuals were managed and directly discharged at TSPs, while almost 9,500 referred by TSP health workers to hospitals for specialized care.”
A Palestinian patient, who was treated at the TSPs, said “When I was shot in the leg, I was taken to the closest trauma stabilization center which was less than five minutes away. Doctors treated my injury and made sure I was stable enough to be taken to hospital. Without this immediate medical care to save my leg, I would have survived the journey to hospital, but my leg could have been permanently damaged.”
The report added “This serves to improve the health system in Gaza as a whole.”
To ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the provision of trauma care in Gaza, WHO has established a dedicated Trauma Working Group with different trauma sub-groups, focusing on areas such as reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation, bring together expertise and knowledge that will ensure quality emergency and trauma care for all injured.
(Source / 16.09.2018)

Gaza hospital to close due to fuel shortfall

Due to the shortage of fuel, generators at seven health centres in the besieged Gaza Strip have stopped working

The Abu Yusuf Al-Najjar Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip will cease functioning within nine days due to a lack of fuel needed for its electricity generators, Gaza’s Health Ministry warned today.

In a statement, the ministry said that if health services are halted at the Rafah-based hospital 250,000 people could be affected.

#EndGazaSiege

Roughly 400 patients regularly visit the hospital to receive vital medical treatment, including dialysis, the ministry said.

In recent weeks, the ministry has repeatedly warned of the impending collapse of Gaza’s local health sector due to a chronic shortage of fuel needed to keep hospitals’ emergency generators up and running.

Home to some two million people, the Gaza Strip has a total of 13 government-run hospitals and 54 primary healthcare centres, which together account for roughly 95 per cent of all health services in the coastal enclave.

READ: Gaza hospitals to stop services over fuel crisis

Gaza is suffering from an acute shortage of electricity as a result of the 11-year Israeli imposed siege. Both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority have supported the blockage by imposing further limitations on the Strip.

2 million people are deprived of electricity, vital medical care, and clean water in #Gaza

READ: ow.ly/QyoE30eOfV9

MEMO Infographic by QUAD Business House

(Source / 12.09.2018)

Palestinian hospital in Jerusalem: US decision to cut aid catastrophic

Makassed Hospital

Responding to the US decision to cancel the $20 million grant allocated to the Palestinian Makassed hospital in occupied Jerusalem, the hospital administration on Saturday that the measure harms live-saving services and confuses political issues with medical and humanitarian ones.

The Hospital admin said in a statement that this decision comes at a time when the hospital is facing a severe financial crisis due to the large cash flow deficit and the outstanding debts of the Palestinian government.

“The hospital’s share of the total US grant is 45 million shekels ($12.5 million), which helps a great deal its various departments and the provision of services for its patients who come from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and occupied Jerusalem,” it said.

Depriving the hospital of these funds demands an immediate financial intervention from the Palestinian government to help the hospital pay the income tax, the property tax and the pension fund imposed by the Israeli government, said Makassed’s admin.

The statement slammed the US move, which it said makes part of US attempts to pressure the Palestinians to accept its dictates.

US President Donald Trump ordered that $25m earmarked for the medical care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals be directed elsewhere as part of a review of aid, a State Department official said on Saturday.

Trump called for a review of US assistance to the Palestinians earlier this year to ensure that the funds were being spent in accordance with national interests and were providing value to taxpayers, Reuters reported.

The aid cut is the latest in a number of sanctions by the Trump administration that have stirred the anger of Palestinians, including the recognition of occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

“This is not a formula of peace-building, this is a complete inhuman and immoral action that adopts the Israeli right-wing narrative to target and punish Palestinian citizens to compromise their rights to independence,” AFP cited a Palestinian official as stating.

Human rights groups also condemned such an act of “political blackmail”, which they said goes against the norms of human decency and morality.

(Source / 09.09.2018)

Gaza hospitals to stop services over fuel crisis

Gaza has a total of 13 Ministry-run hospitals and 54 primary health care centers

Palestinian Health Ministry warned on Sunday of grave consequences of the fuel crisis on hospitals in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

“Generators are about to shut in major hospitals in Gaza due to shortage of fuel,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement.

“There is no response from all parties so far [to solve the crisis],” he said.

On Tuesday, the ministry warned of collapse of medical services in hospitals in Gaza due to lack of fuel needed to run generators in hospitals.

Home to nearly two million people, the Gaza Strip boasts a total of 13 Ministry-run hospitals and 54 primary health care centers that account for roughly 95 per cent of all health services in the coastal enclave.

Gaza, which continues to groan under Israeli siege, has struggled with severe electricity shortages since 2006.

(Source / 09.09.2018)

UN: Gaza patients at risk of death

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator to the occupied Palestinian territory, Jamie McGoldrick, Wednesday urged immediate funding for emergency fuel to Gaza to avoid catastrophic breakdown in essential services.

The Humanitarian Coordinator has written to the donor community requesting immediate support for a program which provides life-saving emergency fuel to operate standby emergency power generators at critical health centers, and water and sanitation facilities in the Gaza Strip. Funds donated thus far in 2018 have been depleted, he said.

A statement by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said final stocks of emergency fuel will be delivered this week to critical facilities in the Gaza Strip, through the United Nations-Assisted Emergency Fuel Program.

Life-saving services in Gaza currently depend on the UN’s delivery of emergency fuel, due to an energy crisis that leaves the two million Palestinian residents of Gaza, over half of whom are children, with only 4-5 hours of electricity from the grid per day. Based on the current electricity deficit in Gaza, a minimum of $4.5 million is required to sustain these essential services until the end of the year.

“If new funds are not received immediately, we will be facing a potentially catastrophic breakdown in essential service delivery,” said McGoldrick. “Services provided at hospitals, clinics, as well as sewage treatment, water and sanitation facilities will cease. Some hospitals are already within a week of closing. The most vulnerable people of Gaza, who rely on public services and have no income sources, will be the most negatively affected.”

Hospitals in the Gaza Strip only have enough fuel to support service provision just over two weeks, in total, with some facilities at greater risk, putting the lives of hundreds of vulnerable patients at risk each day. These include patients being treated in intensive care, new-born babies in neonatal units, patients requiring emergency surgery, dialysis patients treated for kidney failure, and those needing emergency care, said the statement by OCHA.

More than 4,800 patients in Gaza daily require access to lifesaving or life-sustaining health care that requires a constant supply of electricity. Of these, at least 300 are connected to life-saving medical machines such as ventilators, dialysis machines, incubators and anesthetic machines, where disruption or electricity cut-out puts patients at immediate risk of brain damage or death.

Without fuel, some 300,000 people will potentially be affected by serious public health concerns as sewage could overflow onto streets.

“The situation in Gaza is desperate. Over a decade of blockade and unresolved internal political divisions have stripped people of their rights and left over two-thirds of the population dependent on humanitarian aid,” said McGoldrick. “We can prevent a further slide into catastrophe by ensuring that essential services continue, but we need the international community to step up immediately with support to do so.”

(Source / 06.09.2018)