Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza: Hospitals Overwhelmed Amidst Intense Fighting
The ongoing crisis in Gaza has taken a severe toll on the healthcare system, specifically in Khan Younis, where the intensity of the fighting has left thousands of people seeking shelter in hospitals and healthcare facilities. The European Hospital in Gaza, with a mere capacity of 670 beds, is currently serving over 800 patients, going well beyond its capacity. In addition to this, over 22,000 people have taken refuge in the hospital due to the ongoing conflict and lack of safe shelter.
Hospital Conditions and Services
The World Health Organization team and partners who have witnessed the situation first-hand report extreme crowding and inhumane conditions for patients, health workers, and those seeking shelter. Sanitation and clean water are in short supply, increasing the risk of disease outbreaks. Despite this, the hospital continues to operate, providing emergency department, intensive care unit, surgery and wound care, child and neonatal care, laboratory, and radiology services, albeit with limited capacity.
Gaza’s Largest Hospital Unable to Provide Critical Care
According to reports from Doctors Without Borders, Nasser Hospital, Gaza’s largest remaining hospital, is now unable to provide critical medical care. As the Israeli army encircles Khan Younis, the fighting intensifies, leaving the hospital unable to operate. Thousands of displaced Palestinians, who had escaped fighting elsewhere in Gaza, are also sheltering in the hospital. The facility is facing dire conditions, including a lack of beds and essential supplies.
Food and Medical Supply Shortages
The European Hospital, along with the Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals, are facing a severe shortage of food due to the constant Israeli attacks. The Ministry has raised concerns about the risk of death for thousands trapped inside these hospitals due to hunger. In addition to this, the hospitals are also suffering from a major shortage of medical staff and essential supplies, including milk formula, food, and medications for children.
Aid Delivery and Calls for Ceasefire
The WHO team has managed to deliver essential medical supplies for 9,000 patients. However, the supplies remain insufficient given the scale of the crisis. The team continues to call for a ceasefire, emphasizing the dire need for peace to ensure the provision of essential medical services and humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, Gaza ambulances have been converted into mobile clinics, as the fighting has blocked the way to hospitals.
The international community is increasingly alarmed at the situation in Gaza. Belgium, for instance, has summoned the Israeli ambassador after a Belgian development agency building in Gaza City was bombed. The country plans to raise the issue of compensation. This crisis comes in the backdrop of escalating tensions in the Middle East, including Houthi rebels attacking a British commercial ship off the coast of Yemen.
The crisis in Gaza, particularly in its hospitals, is a stark reminder of the human cost of conflict. It underscores the urgent need for effective interventions, a ceasefire, and a long-term solution to bring peace to the region.