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Hundreds of Gazans hospitalized for food poisoning during Eid

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GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — At least 1,000 Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip suffered from food poisoning from eating salted herring on the first on Wednesday and Thursday — the second day of Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.

After hundreds of residents of Khan Younis and Rafah were hospitalized for food poisoning, Gaza’s Ministry of the National Economy dumped four tons of herring from markets in the two districts, the ministry’s Under Secretary Imad al-Baz told Ma’an.
He added that merchants who were caught selling spoiled herring would be arrested.Lab tests determined that the salted herring were inedible due to inadequate storage or problems during the salting process. Herring, al-Baz said, need to be stored under 4 degrees Celsius.After the fasting throughout the holy month of Ramadan, herring is a popular Eid dish among Palestinians as they believe it helps avoid indigestion problems usually caused by eating a lot traditional Eid sweets and nuts while the stomach is still used to fasting.Al-Baz added that his ministry also found expired meat in some restaurants. “Some restaurants have been selling stale shawarma which was leftover from a day before.” Legal procedures, he asserted, will be taken against the owners.Director General of Hospitals the Ministry of Health Abd al-Latif al-Hajj said that in Khan Younis, 420 people were treated at the European Hospital and 311 at Nasser Hospital, and 60 were treated at Abu Yousif al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. Some 250 were taken to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.
(Source / 10.07.2016)

How the 2003 Iraq invasion devastated the country’s health service

Iraqi doctors weighs a child at a Baghdad clinic

Thirteen years ago, American and British troops launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Iraqis were promised freedom from tyranny, but the subsequent destruction of the Iraqi state apparatus as well as the cycle of violence that continues to this day destroyed the health system that cared for the nation.

In 2003, the health service in Iraq was in a bad way following years of economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations. The sanctions contributed to the death of thousands of citizens from malnutrition and a lack of essential drugs.

This fragile, state-sponsored health service was severely damaged by the invasion. Around 7% of the hospitals were partly destroyed during the war, and 12% were looted in the chaos that followed. Many health care facilities were taken over for military use during the conflict.

No plan to rebuild what they’d destroyed

Neither the Americans nor the British had any plans for the healthcare system. Despite a promised aid package of $18.4 billion to rebuild Iraq, only a few small contracts were awarded to private contractors. The World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and local Iraqi experts were not consulted. The main aim of these contracts was to train the ministry of health staff on public health planning and health policy development since the majority of the experienced staff were made redundant as part of the American policy to rid the government institutions of people likely to be loyal to the previous regime.

Iraq, to this day, has no comprehensive health policy. Contrast this with the Iraqi health service of the 1970s and 80s which was one of the most advanced in the Middle East.

Today, most of the country’s 1,717 primary healthcare centres have no running water or electricity, and the 197 hospitals don’t have enough equipment or expertise to deal with the needs of a nation confronting ever increasing violence and terrorism.

After the handover of the power from the US-led coalition forces to the first Iraqi government, it was reported that 40% of the 900 essential drugs were out of stock in hospitals. This happened at time when Iraq needed every little bit of help it could get to deal with its worst health crisis for decades. There was – and still is – a continuous surge in trauma-related hospital admissions caused by the violence in addition to an increase in the burden of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer (making up to 44% of the causes of mortality).

Last year, a WHO report revealed the dark reality of the state of health in Iraq with high mortality rates among children under the age of five as well as outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and polio, in a country where millions of people have no access to healthcare services.


The poor security conditions that continue to this day and the failure of the Anglo-American occupation forces to come up with a policy to protect the healthcare professionals led to an exodus, with nearly 75% of doctors, pharmacists and nurses leaving their jobs since 2003 with many departing to seek refuge in safer countries.

It is estimated that as few as 9,000 doctors and 15,000 nurses are serving nearly 28m Iraqis. This is nearly six doctors and 12 nurses for every 10,000 citizens. For a similar population in the UK, there are 23 doctors and 88 nurses that provide healthcare services. Dentists, pharmacists and healthcare managers are also in short supply.

There are almost no healthcare professionals in rural areas or to provide care for millions of internally displaced people. Also, training of healthcare workers was disrupted with medical and nursing schools struggling to remain open and many students facing security threats and no prospect of adequate training. The lack of provisions to train more healthcare professionals and the mass migration of trained staff exacerbated the shortage of experienced well-trained professionals to provide health service.

Any plan to rebuild the healthcare system in Iraq should aim to provide adequate protection for the people providing the service.

Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO

The state of the Iraqi health service and the future of its workforce can be summarised in the words of the WHO Director General, Margaret Chan: “The situation is bad, really bad, and rapidly getting worse.”

Iraq is facing a health and humanitarian crisis as the result of decades of war, occupation, violence and terrorism. Nearly 3m people are internally displaced, 6.9m Iraqis need immediate access to essential health services, and 7.1m need urgent access to clean water and sanitation. As the Chilcot Inquiry finally releases it report into the war, people in Iraq continue to suffer the results of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

(Source / 06.07.2016)

20 Sick prisoners in critical health conditions in Ramleh hospital

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Lawyer of Detainees and Ex-detainees Committee, Hanan al-Khatib, warned of the critical health conditions of 22 Palestinian sick captives in the Israeli Ramleh prison hospital. “Their lives are in danger … they are dying inside jail”, she said and called for serious work for their release.  Lawyer al-Khatib on Saturday documented the cases of those sick prisoners. She revealed that the injured captive Daoud Rayyan, 34, has been suffering from anxiety disorder before his arrest. His condition has worsened after the arrest and the injury,  she said.  Detainee Yousuf Nawaja, 50, from Yatta town in al-Khalil suffers from ceaseless bleeding and amnesia after he had fallen on the ground in Ashkelon jail. He also struggles with partial paralysis, epilepsy as well as worsening of his overall health condition, Khatib said.  She also mentioned the condition of the sick detainee Sami Abu Diyak, 33, from Jenin, who is suffering from infections and tumors in the guts. He underwent a surgery to remove 80 centimeters of his intestines in Israeli Soroka Hospital.

(Source / 26.06.2016)

Diseases killed 10,000 Yemeni children in past year: UN

Yemeni children stand outside a tent at a makeshift camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) after they were forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing fighting in the country, in the Nihm region, west of Ma'rib city, on May 8, 2016. (AFP)

Yemeni children stand outside a tent at a makeshift camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) after they were forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing fighting in the country, in the Nihm region, west of Ma’rib city, on May 8, 2016

The United Nations says some 10,000 of Yemeni children, all under five years of age, have lost their lives during the past year alone.

The deaths were caused by “totally avoidable and preventable diseases” such as diarrhea and pneumonia, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday.

Yemen has been under Saudi military attacks almost on a daily basis since March 2015, which have killed thousands and destroyed the country’s civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and factories.

Dujarric said the heavy loss was due to the closure of hundreds of health centers and the total collapse of the healthcare system in the war-torn country.

“The overall healthcare system throughout Yemen has all but collapsed, over 600 health facilities closing their doors due to the lack of financial resources to procure medicine, supplies and fuel for generators,” he said, adding thousands of medical staff have gone unpaid or left Yemen.

“This suffering should, however, turn into an incentive to reach a rapid and comprehensive solution as we approach the month of Ramadan,” he said.

UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed also said reports from several cities showed the horrifying magnitude of the suffering that the Yemeni people are going through because of shortages in basic services.

Yemeni children stand amid rubbish at a slum in the capital Sana’a, on March 12, 2016

In a March report, the UN Children’s Fund said a year of Saudi war on Yemen had left 934 children dead and 1,356 more injured, with an average of six children suffering casualties every day.

The report said some 320,000 children faced acute malnutrition, a serious case which can leave a child vulnerable to deadly respiratory infections, pneumonia and water-borne diseases.

In a similar report in March, Save the Children, a non-governmental organization, said about 90 percent of children in Yemen needed emergency humanitarian aid.

Yemeni children stand outside houses which were destroyed several months ago in an airstrike by Saudi warplanes at a slum in Sana’a, March 12, 2016

More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since Saudi Arabia launched its attacks on Yemen. The kingdom launched the offensive in a bid to bring former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power.

Hadi’s loyalists are fighting an all-out war against Houthis who have taken the control of Sana’a and some other areas to prevent them from falling to Takfiri extremists.

Saudi Arabia has been supporting Hadi forces from the air, ground and sea with attacks which, some analysts say, have helped Takfiris expand their foothold in Yemen.

Airstrikes have continued despite a ceasefire put in place since April, scuttling efforts to end the conflict.

Dujarric urged the warring parties to make concessions and put the interests of Yemen and Yemenis above all.

(Source / 02.06.2016)

First aid station opens in Gaza town with Turkish help

[file photo]

A first aid station was opened in Gaza’s Karara town on Sunday with help from the Turkish Red Crescent, Palestinian officials said.

During the opening ceremony, Karara Mayor Abdurrahim al-Ibadile thanked the Turkish Red Crescent for financing the project, which cost around $10,000.

Karara was heavily bombarded by Israel during the 2014 Gaza war.

The town, which is near the border with Israel, saw Israeli tanks enter its borders at the time.

(Source / 29.05.2016)

UNRWA: 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza suffer from diabetes

GAZA, (PIC)– 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza Strip suffer from diabetes, half of them are women, UNRWA said in a new report issued On the occasion of World Health Day. The Gaza Strip is an environment where malnutrition and infectious diseases can coexist with non-communicable health conditions such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Forced urbanization, over-crowding and the related psychosocial stress can aggravate these diseases, the report said. According to the UNRWA health programme in Gaza, in 2015, approximately 12.2 per cent of Palestine refugees aged 40 years or more were suffering from diabetes.  In total, the UNRWA health programme in Gaza reported 16,889 male and 23,118 female Palestine refugee diabetes patients in 2015. Through the provision of basic health care in its health centres, as well as regular awareness sessions for the community, UNRWA is working towards Sustainable Development Goal 3 – good health and well-being – which calls for the reduction of premature death from non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, by 30 per cent by 2030. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people living with diabetes globally has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults, with most living in developing countries.

(Source / 29.04.2016)

Gaza still clearing rubble from 2014 war

A Palestinian schoolgirl walks past the remains of a house, destroyed during 2014 war, as she returns to her home in the northern Gaza Strip, Feb. 10, 2016

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — June 2016 is the deadline set by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, to complete the removal of the rubble from buildings destroyed in 2014 during the Israeli war on Gaza. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) estimates that 141,000 homes were completely or partially damaged, in addition to dozens of institutions, industrial installations and government buildings.

Mufeed al-Hasayneh, minister of public works and housing, told Al-Monitor that 97% of the rubble from the homes destroyed has been removed. The remaining rubble is from large buildings, such as the so-called Italian tower in the center of Gaza City, the Awda food factory in central Gaza and the Zu’rob Tower in Rafah.

Hasayneh said that the project would cost some $14 million. Of that amount, the United States has provided $10 million, and other donors, including Sweden, contributed $3.2 million.

Omran al-Kharroubi, manager of the UNDP’s Rubble and Debris Removal project, told Al-Monitor that an estimated 1.1 million tons of rubble have been removed to allocated areas east of Rafah, in southern Gaza, and to Johr al-Deek, east of Gaza City. The rubble collected will be recycled and reused for infrastructure projects.

“The crews that worked on the ground to remove the rubble have faced numerous obstacles during their work, including the presence of suspicious objects in buildings,” Kharroubi said. “International explosive specialists removed 3,000 suspicious objects, including unexploded ordnance.”

Kharroubi added, “Other obstacles we faced involved the removal equipment required. Israel has allowed the entry of only three pieces of equipment out of a large list, following a request submitted a year ago. This forced the workers to use old and dilapidated equipment, thus delaying the project’s completion.”

A project to recycle and reuse the rubble, also funded by the UNDP, has begun, Kharroubi said, with 150,000 tons of rubble thus far having been crushed.

Osama Kahil, head of the Palestinian Contractors Union, told Al-Monitor that 40 to 50 Palestinian construction companies are participating in the rubble removal under UNDP supervision. Kahil said that about a month ago the union sent a request to Israel to import spare parts and equipment for rubble removal and to erect new buildings, but so far they have not received an answer.

“Israel claims that equipment such as bulldozers and diggers has dual uses, meaning that it can be used to remove and build buildings in addition to building military tunnels into Israel by the Palestinian resistance,” said Kahil.

Mahmoud Jehjouh and Sons, a contracting and general trading firm, submitted a bid of $550,000 to remove some of the rubble in Gaza City. The company director, Maher Jehjouh, told Al-Monitor that the UNDP program trained about 60 of his workers before the project got underway.

“Our company was able to fully remove the rubble of about 150 houses in Gaza City,” said Jehjouh. “We removed thousands of tons of rubble. The UNDP requires that extracted cement blocks not exceed 50 x 50 centimeters so that they can be crushed and converted into usable materials. We were given seven months to finish the job, but we finished it in five.”

Baha al-Agha, general director of the Environmental Protection Department, told Al-Monitor that the project has several environmental benefits because it involves a lot of recycling. Agha explained that his department, in collaboration with the UNDP and the Energy Authority, inspect the rubble to make sure that it is free from radiation that can harm people and the environment.

It will take Gaza one and a half years, with international assistance, to remove all the rubble from the war. The question now is when the reconstruction process will be finished. The process is proceeding very slowly, with $5.4 billion in pledges still outstanding. Only 3,000 houses have been constructed, during the wait for financial assistance arrive and pressure on Israel to allow the entry of construction materials. Last year Oxfam estimated that at the current rate, Gaza’s reconstruction will take 100 years due to inadequate funding and ongoing siege.

(Source / 21.04.2016)

Palestinian hunger-striker’s health takes turn for worse

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The health status of the Palestinian detainee Sami Janazra, 43, has remarkably deteriorated after 48 days of ongoing hunger strike in the Israeli Negev desert jail. Speaking in an exclusive statement to the PIC, Janazra’s wife expressed concern over his exacerbating health status. She added that her husband has started suffering frequent fainting after he fell off his bed in the prison cell and was taken to hospital.  The lawyer was informed that Janazra might be moved to hospital in the coming hours.  Prisoner Janazra, from al-Khalil, to the south of the occupied West Bank, spent seven years in Israeli jails in separate arrests before being detained administratively on November 15, 2015 which made him declare an open-ended hunger strike 48 days ago.

(Source / 21.04.2016)

Palestine to send medics, aid to Ecuador after deadly earthquake

A medic cleans a wound caused by a tear gas canister that hit the leg of an older protester on Oct. 13, 2015

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A Palestinian medical team will leave the occupied West Bank on Monday to help victims of a deadly earthquake in Ecuador, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.A powerful earthquake of a magnitude of 7.8 hit the South American country on Sunday, killing at least 77 people and injuring hundreds.Health Minister Jawad Awwad said in a statement that he had received instructions from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to send medics and medical equipment to Ecuador.Awwad added that the Ministry of Health arranged with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the departure of a team of medics as well as medicines and medical equipment on Monday.Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said a team of 15 Palestinian emergency and disaster medics would leave for Ecuador on Monday.Al-Maliki added that Palestine and Ecuador have always shared a strong bond and been supportive of one another. Despite its limited resources and capabilities, Palestine would always try to help other countries hit by calamities, he added.

(Source / 17.04.2016)

Cancer patient prisoner moved to Ramla prison hospital

GAZA, (PIC)– The Palestinian cancer patient prisoner Yousri al-Masri was transferred on Monday evening to Ramla prison hospital after suffering serious health deterioration. Family sources affirmed to the PIC reporter that al-Masri’s health situation had severely deteriorated which led to his transfer to Ramla prison hospital. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) refused for five months to allow medical tests for al-Masri who suffers from neck cancer and severe liver pains, his brother Yasser al-Masri said. Although he had remained in Ramla prison hospital for 40 days, al-Masri didn’t conduct any medical tests nor did he receive any medical treatment. Al-Masri’s family had earlier submitted a request demanding his release after he spent two-thirds of his sentence due to his serious health situation. However, the IPS refused to submit the family’s appeal to the court. The family held the IPS fully responsible for Yasser al-Masri’s safety. Al-Masri was arrested in 2003 and sentenced for 20 years imprisonment. While in prison, he suffered neck cancer which led to severe health deterioration. Meanwhile, Salem military court postponed on Monday the court session of the cancer patient prisoner Bassem al-Sayeh to April 21. The court also allowed a doctor to visit him on Tuesday and to check on his health condition. Al-Sayeh , 43, was arrested for allegedly being involved in Beit Furik anti-occupation attack during which two Israeli settlers were killed in early October last year. Family sources said that he was brought to court on a wheelchair as he was unable to move or to talk. Al-Sayeh suffers from blood and bone cancer, in addition to chronic pneumonia and severe heart problems.

(Source / 29.03.2016)