Saturday, 14 December 2013

WHO: Shortage of supplies leaves Gaza health services in critical condition

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concerns over critical shortages in medical supplies and electricity for Gaza health services -- shortages which are putting Palestinian patients' lives directly at risk, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) has reported.

In a recent press release, WHO notes that 30% of medicines and 50% of medical disposables are out of stock in Gaza's central drug store. This means that patients are, too often, not receiving the appropriate kind or dosage of medicine. And, with daily electric outages averaging at 14 hours, in addition to the high cost of diesel fuel, generators supply only the most pressing of needs (e.g., intensive care units).

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel, with Egyptian support, since 2006, causing surges in the price of diesel. In addition, the Egyptian grid which supplies power to Rafah and southern Khan Younis, in the south, was disconnected Saturday. The Gaza Strip Power Authority was unable to provide electricity to these areas, as a result.

WHO reports that the accumulation of shortages in basic supplies for the Gaza Strip is leading to rapid deterioration in the social determinants of health for the population of 1.7 million Palestinians, and that it is straining the health system’s ability to provide a good standard of health care. more

Widespread flooding in Gaza forces thousands to flee homes

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip was pounded by fierce winds and rain again on Friday as flooding reached dangerous levels in many areas, forcing thousands to flee their homes amid widespread power outages as temperatures plunged into the single digits.

The flooding was worst in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds fled their homes and water levels reached 40-50 cm in some parts, forcing residents to use boats to navigate their neighborhoods.

The Gaza government said in a statement on Friday that so far 2,825 people have been evacuated from their homes, reaching a total of 458 families.

The evacuated were being sheltered in schools across the Strip, the statement was reported by Gaza-based Safa News Agency as saying, as Hamas civil defense authorities rushed to evacuate flooded homes.

Gaza Minister of Health Mufid al-Mukhalalati declared a state of "extreme emergency" as all emergency devices and ambulance crews were put on a state of high alter in all regions of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the minister of Local Government Muhammad Farra instructed the mayors of Gaza to suspend all leave for staff and workers in the water and sanitation sectors until the end of the current crisis.

Farra said in a press statement that municipal crews "will work day and night" until the storm passes, stressing that they will continue their efforts despite the lack of fuel and electricity. more