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Inadequate Facilities, Scarce Supplies: The Dire Reality of Hospitals in Gaza

by Gabriel Martinez
1 comment
Gaza healthcare crisis

The experience more harrowing than hearing a patient’s agonized cries due to insufficient anesthesia is observing the fear-filled expressions on the faces of those next in line for surgery, states a 51-year-old orthopedic surgeon.

In times of escalated Israeli bombardment, and the resulting influx of injured individuals in the hospitals of Gaza City where Dr. Nidal Abed practices, he finds himself treating patients under extreme conditions — whether it be on hallway floors or in overcrowded rooms. Confronted with a shortage of medical supplies, Dr. Abed improvises with whatever is available, utilizing clothing as makeshift bandages and vinegar as a stand-in for antiseptic.

The healthcare system in the Gaza Strip is on the brink of collapse, primarily due to an Israeli blockade that has led to power shortages and has hampered the delivery of essential goods, including food. These medical facilities are lacking in potable water and are rapidly running out of basic supplies to alleviate pain and prevent infection, not to mention the declining reserves of fuel for generators.

The situation has been exacerbated by Israel’s military offensive, initiated in response to a cross-border attack by Hamas militants on October 7, which resulted in over 1,400 casualties, mostly among civilians, and more than 200 abductions. The Israeli assault has wrought significant damage, closing five hospitals, causing thousands of fatalities, and overwhelming the remaining healthcare facilities.

Dr. Abed, who collaborates with Doctors Without Borders, spoke to The Big Big News from Al Quds Hospital, a facility that continues to operate despite an evacuation order from the Israeli military and now also shelters about 10,000 Palestinians displaced by the conflict. “The prevailing feeling here is terror; however, there are no plans for evacuation,” Dr. Abed said.

The first consignments of food, water, and medicine from Egypt arrived in Gaza on Saturday after being held up at the border for several days. Despite these deliveries, international aid organizations and healthcare professionals warn that the situation remains critically inadequate.

Mehdat Abbas, an official in the Health Ministry controlled by Hamas, commented, “This is nothing short of a humanitarian crisis. Absent substantial additional aid, hospitals will soon become more dangerous than safe havens.”

Innovation is being stretched to its limits in hospitals across Gaza. Dr. Abed has resorted to using a combination of saline and contaminated tap water for cleaning wounds due to Israel’s termination of water supply. The unavailability of surgical essentials has led medical staff to employ sewing needles for suturing, which Dr. Abed says can cause tissue damage.

“When the fuel supply was interrupted by Israel two weeks ago, emergency generators came online to power life-saving equipment,” he noted. “But even these are now at risk, as fuel reserves are nearing exhaustion.”

In some healthcare facilities, power outages have already occurred. For example, at Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, medical personnel used their smartphones as a light source during surgical procedures. At Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical center where Dr. Abed also recently worked, power is largely unavailable except in the intensive care units.

The overwhelming number of injuries has led to a scarcity of available beds in hospitals, pushing medical staff to make heart-rending decisions on which patients to prioritize for treatment. “The system is stretched beyond its limits. Even a fully-equipped hospital would falter under these circumstances,” Dr. Abed concluded.

Reported by DeBre from Jerusalem.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza healthcare crisis

What is the main cause of the healthcare crisis in Gaza’s hospitals?

The healthcare crisis in Gaza’s hospitals is primarily caused by the Israeli blockade, which has led to power shortages, restricted deliveries of essential goods, and severe limitations on medical supplies.

How are hospitals coping with the influx of patients amid Israeli bombings?

Hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed by the surge of patients. Doctors and medical staff are treating patients in hallways, on floors, and in overcrowded rooms. They are also resorting to improvisation due to shortages of basic medical supplies.

What is the situation with clean water and power supply in these hospitals?

The hospitals in Gaza are facing a shortage of clean water, making it challenging to maintain proper hygiene. Additionally, power cuts are disrupting critical life-support equipment, and generators are running out of fuel.

How has the Israeli military offensive affected the healthcare system in Gaza?

The Israeli military offensive, triggered by cross-border attacks by Hamas militants, has led to the closure of five hospitals, a significant loss of life, and a strain on the already limited healthcare facilities, making the situation even more dire.

What measures are healthcare professionals taking to address these challenges?

Healthcare professionals in Gaza are resorting to innovative solutions, such as using alternative cleaning agents, makeshift bandages, and sewing needles for sutures. They are doing their best to stabilize patients and provide care under extremely challenging conditions.

Is there international aid reaching Gaza to address the healthcare crisis?

While some aid has started to arrive in Gaza, including food, water, and medicine, healthcare workers and aid organizations emphasize that the current level of aid remains insufficient to address the escalating humanitarian crisis in the region.

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1 comment

SeriousReader27 October 22, 2023 - 7:50 am

da health system in gaza’s on edge. izrael’s attacks r makin’ it worse. dr. abed’s doin’ whatev he can.

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