Gaza’s health services face possible collapse

The armed conflict in the Gaza Strip may have ended for now but the consequences of the Israeli Wehrmacht’s 50-day air, sea and land aggression in July and August will be felt by the people of the strip for a long time to come.

That much is clear from a report by the Palestinian Ministry of Health on the impact of the aggression on the Palestinian Health sector in Gaza.

The report, published in September, says, among other things:

The recent conflict in Gaza severely impacted on the health and wellbeing of the entire population. Large-scale population displacement, shortages of water and electricity, environmental health hazards, loss of income and many more factors increased drastically the vulnerability of the majority of the population at a time when the siege on Gaza and the financial crisis of the government had already left the system on the brink of collapse. The chronic situation of the health sector therefore is a major underlying cause for the impact of the conflict on the health system in Gaza today and unless addressed systematically a recovery of the health sector to a stronger and more resilient health system is highly unlikely.

The direct impact of the conflict led to the loss of life, disabilities, decompensation of chronic illnesses and severe negative effect on the mental wellbeing of the population. Security issues and the destruction of vital health infrastructure were and are large contributors to the reduced availability of health services during and after the conflict. Although the hostilities have halted, much of its impact will continue for some time. Shortages of drugs and medical supplies, limitations in tertiary care capacity, extreme fuel shortage and complicated referral mechanisms for the referral of severe cases abroad exacerbated the situation… External support from donors, the UN and NGOs supported the MoH in the response to the crisis and helped to alleviate the situation during the emergency and in the short term aftermath. The monitoring of partner activities through the 4W [who is doing what where and when] indicates however that the majority of response projects only cover the first 1-3 months, with some extending as far as 6-12 months: there is a high likelihood that if funding is not secured beyond this initial period the recovery of the health sector will falter in the medium term.

A full copy of the report is below (to view the document full page, click on the arrow in the top right-hand corner of the frame below).

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