Health Ministry: “%80 Of Cancer Medications Depleted In Gaza Hospitals”

12 AUG
10:45 AM

The Palestinian Health Ministry is Gaza has reported that %80 of cancer medications in the besieged coastal region have depleted, an issue that poses imminent threats to the lives of the patients.

Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, has reported that the Rantisi specialized hospital, which deals with cancer patients, has run out of the drug, Neupogen, which is essential for the immunity systems of the patients, adding that, starting on Sunday morning (August 12th), all treatments will be suspended.

Dr. al-Qedra added that the lives of hundreds of cancer patients in the Gaza Strip is at a real risk if the current drug crisis is not immediately resolved.

On his part, Dr. Talha Ba’lousha, the head of the Oncology Pharmacy Department at the Rantisi Pediatric Hospital, said all treatments for colon and intestine cancers have been suspended after the main drugs, XELOX, FOLFOX, have run out.

He warned that this poses very serious threats to the lives of cancer patients, who will have to wait for unknown periods until the medications are available, adding that many cancer patients are labeled by Israel as “security threats,” and are not allowed to enter the country for treatment.

“The patients’ conditions do not tolerate waiting until they get the needed medicine, especially since several patients are banned from leaving the Gaza Strip, therefore, they have no option but to wait to be treated in Gaza,” he said, “This poses serious risks to their lives, and causes more pain and grief to them, and their families. How long does this human tragedy and suffering of the patients, and their families have to continue! Who will tell them that the life-saving treatment is not available?”

(Source / 12.08.2018)

Gaza: Health services may stop due to fuel crisis

Health services Gaza

The Palestinian ministry of health has warned that the health facilities in the besieged Gaza Strip may stop to provide services for patients soon due to the current fuel crisis.

“There are no reassurances from the competent authorities that the fuel crisis, which threatens the health facilities, will be resolved, and this means that all the health services in the Gaza Strip are at imminent risk,” spokesman for the health ministry Ashraf al-Qudra stated on Monday.

The health ministry in Gaza had warned last week that several health facilities would face closure after fuel supplies used to operate emergency generators started to run out.

The fuel crisis in Gaza has been escalating since August 1st when Israeli war minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered a halt to the entry of fuel shipments to Gaza.

In addition, the refusal of the Ramallah-based health ministry to support the health facilities in Gaza have made them unable to afford their operating expenses.

(Source / 07.08.2018)

Report: Palestinians in Israel ‘suffer more diseases’ than Jews

Palestinians perform afternoon prayer in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound to stage a demonstration after Israeli authorities decided to remove metal detectors from Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem on 25 July, 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians protest against Israeli security measures in Jerusalem on 25 July, 2017

Palestinian citizens of Israel “suffer more diseases” than Jewish citizens, “according to a health report published Tuesday at a parliament session”, reported Xinhua.

The report, put together by the Advancement of Arab Population’s Health organisation, “showed that the Jews enjoy a far better living condition than the Arabs in Israel, in terms of life expectancy, and the mortality rates of infants, diabetes, high blood pressure and traffic accidents”.

For example, while the average life expectancy in Israel is 82 years for Jews, amongst Palestinian citizens this figure falls to 79 years. “For women, the figures are 80.9 years among Arabs, compared with 84.5 years among Jewish women”, Xinhua added.

Read: Israeli forces fire grenade at couple holding baby

The infant mortality rate, meanwhile, “stands at an average of 6.1 per 1,000 births among Arabs, compared with only 2.2 among Jews”, while “the mortality rate from diabetes is 32 per cent on average among Arabs, compared with only 14 per cent among Jews”.

Other statistics presented in the report include the fact that while “the mortality rate from high blood pressure is 22 per cent among Arab men and 23.4 per cent among Arab women”, this drops to “19 per cent among Jewish men and 18.7 per cent among Jewish women”.

(Source / 12.07.2018)

Turkish medical team arrives in Gaza

Palestinian medical staff carry a wounded woman during a protest within the "Great March of Return" demonstrations near Israel-Gaza border in Gaza City, Gaza on 3 July, 2018 [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian medical staff carry a wounded woman during a protest within the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations near Israel-Gaza border in Gaza City, Gaza on 3 July, 2018

A Turkish medical delegation yesterday arrived in the besieged Gaza Strip to help treat Palestinians wounded by Israeli occupation forces, the Anadolu Agency reported.

The delegation consists of seven people, including two members of management and five doctors.

“They will offer their help, support and training for the Palestinian doctors in addition to carrying out surgical operations for the wounded at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza,” a member of the organising team said.

There are a number of government and non-government Turkish organisations working in Gaza. They offer a variety of help for Gaza residents, where more than two million Palestinians have been living under a stifling Israeli siege.

Read: 136th Palestinian killed as Gaza protests against Israel enter 4th month

(Source / 09.07.2018)

Healthcare services in Gaza to collapse soon due to Israeli siege

In addition to the severe lack of medicines and medical equipment, Israel and the PA put restrictions on medical transfers for patients in need for treatment abroad

After 11 years of strict Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and intentional procrastination of Palestinian Authority (PA) to take up its responsibilities in Gaza, healthcare services to collapse in days.

Shelves of the Palestinians ministry of health in the Gaza Strip are almost empty as hundreds of medicines ran out months ago.

“The Israeli occupation put strict conditions on the passage of medicines, the medical equipment and medical disposals,” Spokesman of the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement.

He also said that the basic medical materials needed for urgent and necessary surgeries and initial lab tests had run out from the besieged enclave.

Al-Qidra called for the PA ministry of health in Ramallah to send medicines, equipment and spare parts, as well as to transfer administration fees.

Meanwhile, he called for the international community to put pressure on the Israeli occupation to facilitate the entry of at least the urgent material and medical equipment and medicines.

(Source / 02.01.2018)

Gaza: 47 percent of basic medicines in hospitals are out of stock

Abdul-Latif al-Hajj

Director of Gaza hospitals Abdul-Latif al-Hajj has warned that the health situation in Gaza is going to deteriorate further due to depleting medical supplies and the failure to pay for cleaning and catering services in hospitals.

In press remarks to the Palestinian Information Center (PIC), Hajj stated that the warehouses of the health ministry hospitals in Gaza are 47 percent short of basic medicines, describing the scarcities in medicinal supplies as burdensome for doctors and families of patients.

He also held the Ramallah-based government responsible for the failure of the health ministry in Gaza to pay its contractors who employ cleaners and other service-providers at hospitals.

He said that after the consensus government took over the ministries in Gaza, the health situation, in particular, started to decline significantly, stressing that Gaza needs permanent solutions to all problems faced by the health sector.

(Source / 31.12.2017)

Cancer-stricken Gazan dies after Israel denies him medical referral

Gazan died of cancer

A 63-year-old Palestinian was pronounced dead in the blockaded Gaza Strip after the Israeli occupation authorities prevented him from receiving life-saving treatment at hospitals in Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 (Israel).

Abdul Fatah al-Sabakhi, from Gaza’s al-Nuseirat camp, succumbed to his cancer disease. Sometime earlier, Sabakhi, a former UNRWA employee, reached a hospital in Palestinian territories occupied in 1948. However, the Israeli authorities barred him from continuing medical therapy, resulting in his death.

Over recent weeks, al-Sabakahi’s health condition had sharply gone down, before he died on Tuesday morning.

Al-Sabakhi is one among hundreds of Gazans who died in the besieged coastal enclave of Gaza after they were denied the right to urgent medical referrals and treatment outside of Gaza’s under-equipped hospitals.

(Source / 27.12.2017)

Officials: Patients in Gaza hospitals left with no food

Image of an injured Palestinian receiving medical care at the Al-Najar hospital in Gaza on 20 October 2013 [Khaled Khaled/Apaimages]

An injured Palestinian can be seen receiving medical care at the Al-Najar hospital in Gaza on 20 October, 2013

Companies which provide meals to patients in hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip have stopped catering to medical centres because they have not been paid for months, a Ministry of Health spokesperson revealed yesterday.

Speaking to Quds Press, Ashraf Al-Qidra said the government of national accord in occupied Ramallah had not settled the catering companies’ payments.

“Hundreds of patients are now without food,” Al-Qidra said, adding that the Ministry of Finance had not responded to requests made weeks ago to settle the companies’ dues.

He said that patients in the hospitals in Gaza need 86,000 meals a year at a cost of 6 million shekels ($1.7 million).

Last year, Gaza could not cover the cost of the meals and obtained funding from charities.

Healthcare in Gaza: Is there any hope left?

(Source / 19.12.2017)

Samah Jabr on being one of only 22 psychiatrists in the West Bank

In her capacity as the head of mental health services in the West Bank, Jabr is trying to develop a model of services that corresponds with the resources available

Samah Jabr is one of the first female psychiatrists in Palestine, and one of only 22 psychiatrists serving the occupied West Bank’s 2.5 million strong population.

Born in Jerusalem, Jabr grew up as a resident with no citizenship rights. Throughout her life, she was exposed to life under military occupation, witnessing the impact of traumatic events such as imprisonment and home demolitions on the psychological wellbeing of Palestinians.

“Growing up in Palestine as a Jerusalemite made me aware of the vulnerability of my situation, and made me understand that injustice is a very important pathogen that harms the wellbeing of the Palestinian people under occupation,” Jabr told MEMO.

After graduating from the School of Medicine at Al-Quds University, Jabr pursued advanced training in psychiatry and child psychotherapy in France, England and Palestine. Aside from her clinical work, she has also been documenting her experiences since 1998, writing for media outlets and producing scholarly publications for specialised journals.

“My work in medicine brought me close to the experiences of people,” she said, “and I feel an ethical responsibility to provide a testimony about the cases and the experiences of Palestinians.”

‘Unliveable’: Gaza’s rising suicide rates

Jabr tells me that she has encountered many victims of physical and psychological torture throughout her career, but it is always the less visible, less pronounced scars that strike her the most.

She relates the case of a young man who now sleeps with a bag of underwear next to his bed because he is in constant fear of re-arrest. Another case that left its mark on Jabr was that of a sisters whose mother was arrested by Israeli soldiers in a raid on their home. Fearing another raid, the girls slept in the middle room of the house for months instead of their bedrooms, fully dressed and wearing their headscarves.

Dr Samah Jabr

Dr Samah Jabr

“People are more interested in concrete injuries; the amputation of a leg or a head trauma,” she explains, “and we often don’t pay attention when it is not bloody.”

We talk about how many people were killed and how many were injured, but there is a lot of invisible, unseen suffering

“I perceive my ethical responsibility not only to do the palliative work necessary for managing the consequences of abuse, but also to inform and to do what can be done to stop the abuse and the injustice.”

She goes on to relate another story of a Palestinian boy who told her that the guards in prison were better than his father because they would give him a cigarette to smoke whilst his father wouldn’t. “Later, I learned from that boy how his father couldn’t protect him from being arrested,” she continues.

“This is a very small example of the kind of unseen damage vulnerable people suffer and the kind of abusive intimacy that people can have, which can disturb their feelings and value system,” she says, “and these examples were very common.”

Healthcare in Gaza: Is there any hope left?

Documenting trauma on film

Jabr’s encounters and insights into the psychological impact of life in Palestine were the subject of a documentary released in theatres in France last month. In the film, she narrates excerpts from her writings addressing what resistance means in the context of the Israeli occupation.

French film director Alexandra Dols contacted Jabr at end of 2012 wanting to feature her writings as the foundation of the documentary after she came across an article Jabr wrote in 2007 for the Washington Report on Middle East affairs entitled “Dancing to Different Drummers – But Dancing, Nevertheless”, which explored what one act meant to different individuals. The article starts off with an encounter with a patient of hers telling her how she was “dancing like a slaughtered chicken” when her son was killed, and then follows her other encounters that day with Israeli soldiers dancing at a checkpoint and later herself dancing at a family wedding.

Hesitant at first, Jabr wrote back to Alexandra in 2013 agreeing to the documentary. The crew arrived in Palestine towards the end of the year.

“Dols came with two volunteers,” Jabr says, pointing out the difficulties the team had encountered in securing funding for the montage. “But the fact that they were not supported by a big institution was reassuring for me,” Jabr says, indicating her concerns about mainstream censorship of her discourse. She explains:

I view resistance as a healthy response to the violent reality and the occupation, where people have to submit to injustice

This idea was echoed by the various Palestinian voices interviewed in the film, who come from a variety of backgrounds from across the political and ideological spectrum.

“The interviews and the recording of my articles took a lot of time,” Jabr adds, “but I am satisfied with the film.”

I liked how Dols visualised my articles. She made me read them and provided images and pictures that make the articles, the themes and the ideas that I’m writing about, more visible and more pronounced.

Having attended the first week of screenings in France, Jabr says she found the film to be a great tool for discussion, adding that the reaction was encouraging. “It’s a two-hour film but people would stay another two hours to discuss and ask questions,” she says.

“Some mental health professionals who attended were challenging me about the question of neutrality and impartiality,” she continues. “Some of them came with the assumption that being politically opinionated lacks professionalism and that allowed me to elaborate on the ethical responsibility that I find necessary, and on the importance of understanding the context…without ignoring the intrapersonal conflicts in individuals.”

Find out about Jabr’s latest film: Beyond the Frontlines: Tales of Resistance and Resilience in Palestine 

Following the screening, Jabr received a letter in which a member of the audience wrote that Israel must be suicidal to allow the film director to enter Jerusalem or to allow Jabr to travel abroad to criticise it. Her encounter with him was addressed in an article she wrote following the screening.

The film was also screened in Palestine and was accepted for the “Days of Cinema” film festival. It later won the Sunbird Award for best documentary.

The Israeli group of mental health professionals for human rights, PsychoActive, also hosted a screening of the film. “There was a spectrum of different reactions,” Jabr said, “and the first reaction was silence and sadness.”

While some Israelis were encouraged not just to have an opinion about the occupation but to act against it, others accused the film of being one-sided and lacking an Israeli perspective.

“The director makes it clear from the first scene, where there is a conversation between an Israeli and a Palestinian, that she has decided to follow the story of the Palestinian,” Jabr explains.

Mental health in Palestine

Fifty years of occupation have left Palestinians with one of the highest rates of mental health disorders in the Middle East, yet mental health services continue to be among the most under-resourced areas of health provision, with insufficient budgets and personnel.

“These deficiencies are not only influenced by the reality on the ground, but also by attitudes of policy makers in health,” Jabr says, “but in spite of these limitations, there is growth in this profession and we are doing a lot to improve it.”

In her capacity as the head of mental health services in the West Bank, Jabr is trying to develop a model of services that corresponds with the resources available. “I am trying to promote a hierarchy of services, by which general doctors, nurses and teachers can provide low intensity interventions to support the resilience and the wellbeing of people,” she adds, “to identify those who need help and refer the ones who need more specialised intervention to specialised professionals.”

(Source / 17.12.2017)

Guest Writer: Healthcare in Gaza: Is there any hope left?

Dr Munir Ravalia

Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, who have been under strict Israeli blockade for 11 years, are suffering of the severe lack of all basic needs with healthcare on top of them.

The World Employment Conference in 1976 proposed that the satisfaction of basic human needs is the overriding objective of any national and international development policy. When one looks at such a policy, one thinks of a traditional list of immediate basic needs: food, water, shelter and clothing. One could easily add sanitation, education and healthcare.

Abraham Maslow, in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” established the “Hierarchy of Needs.” It included safety, belonging and esteem, to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through. Such terms can be afforded to many around the globe, but what about the impoverished Gazan’s?

Over the decades, the Palestinian population in Gaza has been subjected to conditions many of us would not tolerate. As those around the globe prepare for the festivities of 2018 New Year’s celebrations, there is no glimmer of hope for Gazans, rather a continued sense of despair amongst the residents of this small strip of land surrounded by a heavily militarised land and waterway.

There are two ways in and out of Gaza; one via the Rafah border to Egypt; and the other is through the Erez crossing to Israel. Permits granted to Gazans to leave via this point decreased by over 50 per cent in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. With an ever increasing unemployment rate, many live well below the poverty line. The situation is described as being dire. Many preventable communicable diseases are suffered by the residents due to a lack of fresh drinking water, because of the destruction of a water purification plant, and lack of fuel which is needed to pump and treat sewage adding to the ever declining situation.

Public health is in crisis while the world watches on and does very little. Political shenanigans are played out while the pawns in this bigger game, namely the common man in Gaza, continue to suffer. Many wonder why their Arab neighbours do very little or nothing for their plight.

UNRWA describes the situation in the Gaza Strip as a “population suffering psychological trauma, poverty and environmental degradation, which has had a negative impact on residents’ physical and mental health; many, including children, suffer from anxiety, distress and depression.”

In July, the World Health Organisation described the situation as coming “close to collapse”. Electricity cuts and continued shortages of medicines and medical supplies in the Gaza Strip are severely restricting the access of two million people to critical medical care, WHO has warned. At least 30 hospitals, 70 primary health care centres and a blood bank are at risk of full or partial closure due to continued power outages and insufficient fuel or spare parts for back-up generators.

In October, Fatah and Hamas signed a preliminary reconciliatory deal over the control of the Gaza Strip, part of a series of attempts to end a decade long territorial, political and ideological split that has been crippling for individuals and statehood aspirations. Under the agreement, the Palestinian Authority is to take full control of the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip by December. In exchange, crippling restrictions on the electricity supply are to be lifted. Yet residents are not holding on to any hope; they have been promised so much over the years.

Dr Shadi Al-Yazji, a specialist dental surgeon in Gaza, gained his primary training in Bangalore, India, then moved to the Sudanese capital Khartoum. He describes how he was funded by the Sudanese government to become a specialist in his field. Sudan is well known for supporting many disadvantaged peoples throughout the globe.

Al-Yazli spoke about the general problems he faces with medical health care in Gaza. “The lack of availability of basic medicines which are supposed to come from Ramallah [the PA-controlled West Bank] is a real issue and is getting worse. The lack of many capable specialties such as cardiac surgery and neuro surgery, providing lifesaving care is non-existent. There is great difficulty in referring cases via the Erez gate as well as via the Rafah gate to Egypt, which is often closed for months on end.”

Al-Yazji describes day-today challenges in completing his work including a lack of electricity, “now only four hours a day and cut for 12 hours at a time”. This, he explains, puts severe restrictions on when and for how long he can treat patients.

Low incomes in the Strip mean patients are unable to afford the treatment they need leaving Al-Yazji offering huge discounts with prices only covering his overheads and the costs of feeding his family.

What can be done?

Al-Yazji feels that over the next few years there needs to be a concerted effort by central government to concentrate on preventive health campaigns. Should the matter be ignored, the morbidity rate will only increase, in particular patient care in oncology and cardiology. “We are seeing a serious spike in cancer cases in Gaza,” he explains.

It is clear that there is an ongoing effort to disable all public health amenities and keep the population surviving on the breadline. Unemployment brings with it financial strife which leads to a lack of nutrition. This is of particular important during pregnancy, for newborns and infants. Malnourishment can lead children to be immunocompromised leaving them at greater risk of being infected by a disease that an otherwise healthy child would not succumb to.

Collective punishment

Whatever one’s political viewpoint, the question remains should mothers and babies be subjected to collective punishment?

“Why should the world over be provided with funding to treat diseases such as diabetes , blood pressure, high cholesterol, big killers in the world often caused by excesses and overindulging, when in Gaza mothers and babies die because of the lack of basic medical care?” Al-Yazji asks.

Surely to bring peace to any land and any human, there has to be justice. If a child growing up in Gaza or the West Bank sees no justice, how can they then trust the world to make decisions on their behalf and really feel that peace is within sight? Is peace mere talk? Are their grandfathers right that there will never be peace without justice? Maybe for the people of Gaza the World Employment Conference and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are just another exercise on paper which are not afforded to them but are available to the rest of the world. Perhaps like the impotence of the UN and the Security Council.

(Source / 16.12.2017)