First and Only Pediatric Cancer Department to Open in Gaza This Month

16 Feb 6:35 AM

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, on Thursday, held a press conference to announce the opening of the  first and only Pediatric Cancer Department in the Gaza Strip, which is due to be officially opened on 19 February, according to the PNN.

The 24,000 square meter department, named Dr. Musa & Suhaila Nasir Gaza Pediatric Cancer Department, will provide daily health care with 15 beds, 16 rooms for overnight stays, 3 children’s examination rooms, a dental clinic, medical stations, a pharmacy and nursing stations.

The department will also provide a family gathering room and children’s play rooms with TVs, computers, books and toys. In addition, a full kitchen is equipped with a refrigerator, washing machine and dryer.

As part of its commitment to ensuring and sustaining services and support for children and their families, PCRF has served as a social worker and project manager in the new section in Gaza.

This is the second department to be opened in Palestine by PCRF, the first being the Huda Al-Masri section for child cancer patients at the Beit Jala Hospital in the West Bank, which was named after a founding member of the organization who died of cancer in 2009.

Huda Al-Masri was married to the Executive Director and co-founder of PCRF, who continued to lead the organization and oversaw the process of building this section to treat children in Palestine in honor of his wife’s human heritage.

According to a statement by PCRF, 100% of children with cancer in Gaza are referred for treatment in hospitals outside the Gaza Strip. In most cases, they can not travel with their loved ones because of the Israeli procedures for granting exit permits from the Gaza Strip. In addition to that the treatment of children is intermittent and may be delayed due to delays in granting permits or not re-issued for follow-up treatment, which leads to the cessation of treatment and affects the health of children.

PCRF was able to raise more than $3 million to build the department and to fully equip it with materials as well as high-quality design, with the help of hundreds of people around the world.

The PCRF is a US NGO with more than 26 years of experience in providing medical services and care for sick and wounded children in the Middle East, regardless of their political status and nationality. The department has been named d. Musa and Suhaila Nasser for children with cancer in Gaza in this name in honor of Dr. Musa and Sahila Nasser, who helped establish the Society in 1991 and in recognition of their humanitarian and leadership efforts.

It was established in 1991 in the United States of America to identify the needs of Arab children in the Middle East. For 26 years, the association has provided medical services and treatments that have saved the lives of thousands of children in the Middle East. In addition to direct medical services for children, the Society is making continuous efforts to find sustainable solutions to medical challenges by training local doctors and providing basic medical infrastructure for local hospitals.

(Source / 16.02.2019)

PCHR: “On International Childhood Cancer Day, Israel and Political Division Deepens Struggle of Children with Cancer in Gaza Strip”

16 Feb 11:04 AM

Ref: 19/2019 – Date: 14 February 2019: International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD), which was founded in 2002 by Childhood Cancer International (CCI), is celebrated  around the world every year on 15 February to reduce children’s cancer incidence.

This occasion coincides with the deterioration of health conditions in the Gaza Strip and the increasing level of services that cancer patients receive, including children who were deprived of receiving the proper treatment in a clear violation of the children’s right to receive the highest attainable standard of health.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR’s) follow up, patients with cancer in the Gaza Strip, an estimated number of 8500 patients, including 640 children, face difficult health conditions for ongoing lack of medicine, medical supplies and diagnostic and therapeutic devices, shortage of oncologists, and the aggravation of the ongoing electricity crisis in hospitals. The Israeli restrictions imposed on the travel of children with cancer and their companions are considered as prominent obstacles that prevent these children from receiving their proper treatment.

Dr. Mohammed Abu Selmeya, Director of al-Rantissy Hospital for Cancer Treatment, which is the only hospital that provides cancer treatment for children in the Gaza Strip, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the number of children with cancer in the Gaza Strip has reached 640 children whose ages between one month and 12 years. He added that Leukemia is at the forefront of cancers affecting children in the Gaza Strip and then followed by lymphoma and brain cancer.

He stressed that the hospital faces difficulties in providing treatment services to these patients; most prominently is lack of medicines and medical supplies needed for their treatment, considering lack of Chemotherapy as the most serious problem facing these patients.

Abu Selmeya added that the hospital also faces difficulties in referring child patients to receive treatment abroad due to the travel restrictions imposed by the Israeli Authorities on the children in danger of dying for no reason and for long periods up to 3 months.

He elaborated that the Israeli authorities deprive several mothers and fathers of accompanying their children, who suffers from serious health conditions, during their treatment abroad.

Dr. Muneer al-Bursh, Director General of the Pharmacy Department in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the shortage rate of medicines and drugs for treatment of cancer has reached unprecedented levels in 2018 as in July there was a shortage in 42 types of cancer-treatment drugs, i.e. 65% of medicines that cancer patients need.

He added that some of the medicines, which ran out of stocks, were the Chemotherapy drugs and the Neupogen injections used to boost cancer patients’ Immune system.  He elaborated that any delay in giving this medication would lead to complications, especially that cancer treatment is comprised of a 5-medicine protocol and so the lack of any of them would fail the whole treatment process.

He also said that the Israeli ban on the entry of diagnostic radiological devices needed for the diagnosis of cancerous tumors causes delayed detection of these tumors, obstructs the therapeutic intervention, and puts patients’ life at risk.

It should be noted that patients with cancer, especially children, who are referred to receive treatment abroad, face many obstacles that have negatively affected their health conditions.

According to the information available at the Coordination Department in the Ministry of Health, during 2018, the Israeli authorities obstructed the travel of 10,057 patients referred to receive treatment in the hospitals in Israeli or the West Bank.

The Israeli authorities adopt a series of restrictions that deliberately aim at depriving patients of receiving treatment abroad; most significantly depriving patients of traveling without any reason; depriving patients of traveling due to family-related reasons; arresting patients at Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing; blackmailing and bargaining patients to collaborate with the Israeli authorities; interrogating the Patients; delaying responses to their travel permits; disregard for patient’s appointments at hospitals and imposing tightening restrictions on the travel of patients’ companions.

On the other hand, the political division increasingly deteriorate the standard of health services provided by hospitals and medical centers to these residing the Gaza Strip.

The chronic shortage of specialized medical staff and the Palestinian government failing to allocate new posts in hospitals in the Gaza Strip and cutting the salaries to 263 employees working in the Ministry Of Health in Gaza during February, have negatively affected the quality of health services and put patients’ life at risk.

The employees, whose salaries were cut, are the backbone of the health sector in Gaza as they represent 67% of the medical specialists and 28% of the doctors in the Ministry of Health. During the past January, Ministry of Health had to minimize its services and stop operation of some health facilities due to the shortage of fuel needed to operate the generators in hospitals and medical centers in light of the ongoing electricity crisis.

PCHR is deeply concerned over the life of children with cancer in the Gaza Strip. Thus, PCHR:

– appeals the international organizations, including the United Nations specialized agencies, to immediately intervene to provide an immediate assistance for the health sector for guaranteeing the continuation of health facilities’ work in the Gaza Strip, especially the only hospital that provides treatment for cancer patients in the Gaza Strip.

– calls upon the international community to practice pressure on the Israeli authorities in order to end all restrictions imposed on patients’ travel, especially children with cancer who need special care.

– calls upon the international community to pressurize the Israeli authorities in order to allow the entry of all types of medicines and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip, including Radiological diagnostic devices for the diagnosis of cancerous tumors.

– appeals the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resume their responsibilities and immediately intervene to guarantee the entry of all types of medicines and medical supplies needed for cancer treatment.

– Calls for the importance of coordination between the department of the Palestinian Health Ministry in each of Ramallah and Gaza to guarantee that every person enjoys their  right to health, including the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

(Source / 16.02.2019)

WHO: $32m Needed to Address Humanitarian Needs in the oPt

11 Feb 3:43 AM

Al-Awda hospital ER team providing emergency care to an injured patient. Credit: UHWC

A new report by WHO shows that, since the start of the mass demonstrations in Gaza, on 30 March, 2018, 261 people have been killed and a total of 27,942 people injured:

“13,174 were treated and discharged from the Trauma Stabilization Points (TSPs) and the remaining 14,768 casualties were transferred to MoH and NGO hospitals. 6,386 people had live ammunition gunshot wounds, of which 5,561 (87%) presented limb gunshot wounds.”

The report additionally said that, as the current fuel reserve for hospitals declines, mitigation measures continue to affect the health system, such as reduced sterilization, diagnostic imaging, cleaning, laundry and catering services. However, the Electricity Distributing Company has connected some of the hospitals with extra grid lines, which has in turn decreased the dependency on fuel to run-backup generators; in addition, ad-hoc donations from various charities have prevented the closure of hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health continues to highlight the potential threat facing the health sector, should the remaining fuel gets completely depleted.

The report added that chronic shortages of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies at all facility levels continue to pose major challenges for health services, saying that the Health Cluster requires $32 million USD to response to humanitarian needs in the oPt.

The Humanitarian Response Plan for the Health Cluster will target 900,000 people out of the 1.2 million identified as acutely in need of humanitarian health assistance.

(Source / 11.02.2019)

Cancer Patients Face Slow Death in Gaza

06 Feb 4:10 AM

About 8515 cancer patients in the Gaza Strip are facing a fate worse than death, as they do not have adequate resources for medical treatment, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights reported, according to Al Ray.

On Monday, World Cancer Day, the center published a report about the conditions of cancer patients in Gaza Strip.

The report explained that 607 cases of cancer were recorded among children, which constitutes 7% of the total number.

While the number of female cancer patients reached 4705, constituting 55.3% of the total number.

The center warned of the psychological and physical suffering of patients in Gaza, as a result of the weakness of the possibilities and the permanent shortage of equipment and diagnostic equipment, drugs and the inputs of operating equipment and therapeutic devices.

The center stressed that the big challenge facing cancer patients is the severe shortage in basic medications.

The average rate of deficit in the drugs needed to treat cancer and blood diseases was 58%, during 2018.

Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and the restriction of movement of patients constitute a violation that threatens the lives of patients since it deprives them of access to treatment.

38% of cancer patients in Gaza Strip could not leave Gaza to receive treatment abroad, while 5% of patients were detained.

PCHR documented the deaths of 45 cancer patients, between 2016 and 2018, due to Israeli restrictions, especially at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, in the northern Gaza Strip.

(Source / 06.02.2019)

Urgent: Palestinian prisoner Fares Baroud dies in Israeli prison; prisoners highlight medical neglect

Palestinian prisoner Fares Baroud, 51, from al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, died on Wednesday, 6 February only hours after being suddenly transferred to intensive care from Ramon prison. Baroud suffers from a number of health conditions, including a hernia and liver disease, and has repeatedly spoken about medical neglect and denial of needed health treatment to Palestinian prisoners.

Earlier, he had lost 80 percent of his sight due to a vision problem; treatment was delayed for four months by the prison administration for his condition. Palestinian prisoners’ associations said that Baroud has been subjected to deliberate medical neglect over the years and that he has been denied necessary medical care that could have sustained his life.

Baroud had been denied family visits for 18 years by the Israeli occupation, including with his mother, Rayya Baroud. Rayya suffered from the same vision condition, losing her sight and her life before seeing her son again. Before her death in 2018 at the age of 85 , she participated every week in the vigils of prisoners’ families outside the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City, holding her son’s poster and demanding his release and that of his fellow prisoners.

Fares Baroud’s mother Rayya

Imprisoned since 1991, Baroud was one of the prisoners slated to be released in 2013 as part of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Instead, the occupation violated the agreement, refusing to release the final 30 prisoners named, including Baroud.

He participated in numerous hunger strikes and protests during his years in Israeli prison. Most recently, he held an open hunger strike in 2018 against the Palestinian Authority’s cuts to prisoners’ support, particularly those against prisoners from Gaza. After his strike, he suffered severe liver disease, but did not receive prompt medical care. Months later, he required surgery on his liver.

Baroud was held in Ramon prison and had been transferred to multiple prisons over the years. He was repeatedly held in isolation through his 27 years of imprisonment.

Following Baroud’s death, there are reports of widespread anger and rising protest from Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. A closure and lockdown has been imposed at Ramon and Nafha prisons. Baroud is the 218th Palestinian prisoner to die in Israeli jails, many due to medical neglect, mistreatment or denial of necessary healthcare.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network mourns the loss of Fares Baroud, his life taken away by 28 years of imprisonment and isolation – including 18 painful years of collective punishment for him and his loved ones, denied family visits until the moment of his death. We note that this loss is part of the ongoing and systematic medical neglect and abuse taking place inside Israeli prisons – as we see in recent days with the renewal of administrative detention orders against severely ill Palestinian prisoners Walid Khaled Sharaf and Moataz Obaido, imprisoned without charge or trial while their lives are at risk. We urge all supporters of justice in Palestine to continue to organize to demand freedom and justice for nearly 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails – and freedom and justice for Palestine.

(Source / 06.02.2019)

8,515 cancer patients in Gaza

A hospital in Gaza [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

A hospital in Gaza 

The number of cancer patients in the Gaza Strip has risen to 8,515, including 608 children, the Palestinian Ministry of Health revealed in its latest statistics.

Patients’ suffering is compounded by the permanent shortage of equipment, drugs and medical supplies as a result of Israel’s stifling 12-year siege of  the enclave.

Some 4,705 women are amongst the cancer patients in the Strip, making up 55.3% of the total number of cases, the figures show.

There was a 58 per cent deficit in the drugs needed to treat cancer and blood disease patients in the Strip in 2018. These included 65 medicines, the ministry added.

READ: Medical crisis in Gaza is ‘grotesque’ warn European health professionals

(Source / 05.02.2019) 

Medical crisis in Gaza is ‘grotesque’ warn European health professionals

Palestinian paramedics carry an injured man after Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians protesting in a "Great March of Return" demonstration in Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on February 01, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian paramedics carry an injured man after Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians protesting in a “Great March of Return” demonstration in Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on February 01, 2019

A group of eminent medical and health professionals has drawn attention to the devastating situation in the hospitals across the Gaza Strip. In a letter to the British Medical Journal, Derek A Summerfield et al referred to the fact that last August they published a rapid response at to publicise “the cumulatively devastating effects upon Gaza’s health system of 12 years of Israeli blockade and the strategy of de-development and impoverishment of Gazan society.” Israeli restrictions, they pointed out at the time, have produced chronic shortages of almost all essential medicines and hospital equipment, of fuel to run hospital generators, the cancellation of all elective surgery (affecting more than 6000 people), hospital closures, and many doctors and staff on reduced or no pay.

“Since last March,” they have now pointed out, “Israeli snipers have been firing military grade ammunition and maiming bullets at the border at unarmed demonstrators, killing 257 to date.” Indeed, this week BBC Radio 4 quoted the UN confirming that more than 23,000 Palestinians have been wounded.

Médecins Sans Frontières, the group explained, estimates that “…a massive 3,520 people will need further surgery…” far beyond the grossly depleted resources available. As the shooting on the nominal border continues, one person was killed on Friday 25 January, and 153 were injured, including 34 children, 5 women, 1 journalist, and 5 paramedics on duty. “Since March 2018, three clearly marked medics have been shot dead on duty, 580 have been wounded and 94 ambulances have been damaged.” (as reported by The New York TimesB’Tselem, and Mezan) The targeting of health workers, they stressed to the BMJ, is itself a war crime.

“We write again now at a point when Gaza’s hospitals are in particular peril of total shutdown because of lack of electricity or fuel to run generators.” To keep up the pressure of the siege, they noted, Israel rations the entry of fuel into Gaza, including imposing conditions on donors like Qatar. “One of the hospitals that nearly shut last week was Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital, which currently has 8 children in intensive care, 30 premature babies in the nursery, 100 other child in-patients, and 250 children attending the emergency department.”

They gave details of other hospitals suffering from the chronic shortages of medicines, medical disposables and fuel in the Gaza Strip: “Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital has 45 children with renal failure, 4 children in intensive care, 10 child in-patients with cancer, 70 others needing chemotherapy, 10 children with chronic lung disease, 5 with heart disease, and 10 with other diseases.” In a third hospital, Al-Najjar, which serves 263,000 people, there are 65 beds, including 23 for children. “It has 93 patients in renal failure, should provide key laboratory services, and sees hundreds of cases in its emergency department every day.” A fourth, the Eye Hospital, sees 2,500 cases and performs 250 surgical procedures monthly, including glaucoma, cataract and retinal surgery. “Around 1,250 patients with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and chronic corneal conditions are threatened by loss of sight if services stop. Also living hand to mouth is the psychiatric hospital, which currently has 29 in-patients.”

The group of medical and health professionals described this as a “grotesque situation” and “a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention” that guarantees unfettered access to medical facilities for conflict-affected populations. “This is an intended element of the siege, and persists because no one with political clout challenges Israeli impunity. A UN General Assembly resolution last year has been simply ignored. And no sanctions have been requested yet.”

In closing, Mr Summerfield and the other signatories said that the Palestinians in Gaza are turning to the solidarity of the international community and to the UN for the lifting of the siege and for justice. “How much longer should they have to wait?” they asked.

The signatories of the letter to the British Medical Journal were: Derek A Summerfield, Hon Senior Clinical Lecturer, London Institute of Psychiatry; Vittorio Agnoletto, Professor in Globalisation and Public Health, University of Studies, Milan; Swee Ang, Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon, Barts Health, London; Andrea Balduzzi, researcher in Zoology, University of Genoa; Franco Camandona, Surgeon in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, E.O. Galliera Hospitals, Genoa; David Halpin, retired Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon, Exeter; Ghada Karmi, University of Exeter; Paola Manduca, retired Professor of Genetics and President, New Weapons Research Group-Onlus; Marina Rui, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Genoa; Gianni Tognoni, Mario Negri Institute, Milan; Guido Veronese, Associate Professor, Clinical and Community Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca.

(Source / 02.02.2019) 

Gaza crisis deepen, hospitals to shut down

GAZA, PALESTINOW.COM — The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip on Saturday warned that five hospitals in the enclave are on the verge of shutting down due to power outages.

Spokesman for the Ministry Ashraf al-Qedra said that the next few hours will be crucial for five major hospitals in Gaza, including two children’s hospitals.

According to al-Qedra, these hospitals are to face the same fate of Beit Hanoun Hospital which has closed its doors due to power shortage resulting from depletion of fuel used to run alternative generators during power outage.

The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip has been suffering from acute power and drug shortage as a result of the 13-year-long blockade and the sanctions imposed on the enclave by the Palestinian Authority for nearly two years now.

(Source / 20.01.2019)

Cancer Patient Held in Israeli Jail at Critical Stage

18 Jan 6:43 AM

Palestinian detainee and cancer victim Sami Abu-Diak has lost a great amount of weight and is no longer able to eat or drink, the Detainees Affairs Commission said on Thursday.

Karim Ajwa, the Commission’s attorney, said Abu-Diak has also lost the ability to sleep and can no longer walk. He is also suffering severe stomach pain as a result of the advanced stage of cancer he is suffering.

Abu-Diak, who comes from the town of Silat al-Dahr in the West Bank, is serving a life sentence, and so far served 18 years in jail, according to WAFA.

He underwent surgery in September of 2015, at the Soroka Hospital in Israel, during which 80 cm of his intestine was removed. He suffered a medical error during the surgery, resulting in kidney and lung failure, along with other serious health complications.

(Source / 18.01.2019)

Latest stage of UK-Gaza kidney transplant programme begins

Palestinian patients undergo kidney dialysis at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City

The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced yesterday that the latest stage of the “From Gaza to Liverpool” kidney transplant programme has begun.

This stage is the 20th instalment of the programme, which is led by the head of the Organ Surgery Centre at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the UK, Dr Abdelkader Hammad, Safa reported.

Since 2013 Dr Hammad – who is of Palestinian origin – has worked alongside his colleagues to transfer organ transplant expertise from Liverpool to the besieged Gaza Strip. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 61 kidney transplants have been carried out since the start of the programme.

The first kidney transplant of this latest phase was carried out on Saturday. The head of the Artificial Kidneys’ Department at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, Dr Abdullah Al-Qishawi, explained that the operation was carried out by Palestinian doctors on a patient in his thirties. The patient had been suffering from kidney failure for seven months and needed dialysis several times a week.

This operation is one of four kidney transplants to be carried out during this latest phase.

READ: Lack of medicated baby formula puts life of Gaza children at stake

(Source / 14.01.2019)