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Hospitals in the Gaza Strip at a Breaking Point, Warns WHO

-Editorial

The World Health Organization (WHO) is sounding the alarm: the health system in the Gaza Strip is on the brink of collapse. Time is running out to avert a humanitarian catastrophe unless fuel, life-saving health, and humanitarian supplies can be urgently delivered to the Gaza Strip, which remains under a complete blockade.

Hospitals are down to only a few hours of electricity each day, as they’re compelled to ration their dwindling fuel reserves and rely on generators to sustain critical functions. Even these essential functions will have to cease when fuel stocks run dry in a few days. The consequences would be devastating, particularly for the most vulnerable patients, including those who require life-saving surgery, patients in intensive care units, and newborns depending on incubators for survival.

As the number of injuries and fatalities continues to rise due to the ongoing airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the acute shortages of medical supplies exacerbate the crisis, further limiting the response capacity of already overstretched hospitals to provide treatment to the sick and injured. 

This dire situation has significantly disrupted the delivery of essential health services, including obstetric care, the management of non-communicable diseases like cancer and heart diseases, and the treatment of common infections. All health facilities are compelled to prioritize life-saving emergency care.

Access for emergency medical teams operating in the field is severely hampered by infrastructure damage. The WHO has documented 34 attacks on healthcare facilities in Gaza since last Saturday, resulting in the death of 11 health workers on duty, 16 injuries, and damages to 19 health facilities and 20 ambulances.

Without immediate entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza – particularly health services, medical supplies, food, clean water, fuel, and non-food items – humanitarian and health partners will be unable to meet the urgent needs of the people who desperately require assistance. With each passing hour, more lives are at risk.

The WHO calls for an immediate end to hostilities and protecting healthcare and civilians against attacks. Furthermore, the WHO urges the immediate establishment of a humanitarian corridor to ensure unimpeded access to health and humanitarian supplies, as well as to personnel, and the evacuation of patients and the injured. The WHO reiterates its call for the respect and protection of healthcare.

The WHO stands ready to promptly dispatch trauma and essential health supplies through its logistics hub in Dubai and is working closely with partners to ensure their swift delivery to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing. Urgent access through this crossing is imperative, allowing the WHO and other humanitarian agencies to act swiftly and save lives.

 

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