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The Collapse of the Gaza Healthcare System: A Catastrophic Situation

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Medriva Correspondents
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The Collapse of the Gaza Healthcare System: A Catastrophic Situation

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In the wake of a forced evacuation by Israeli forces, the Gaza Strip is grappling with a catastrophic collapse of its healthcare services. Ten days have passed since Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was compelled to cease its support to the Martyrs and Beni Shueila clinics, leaving the area devoid of essential health services. This healthcare crisis is not restricted to this region alone, but it mirrors the condition of the entire healthcare system in the Strip.

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Desperate Conditions in Gaza

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the situation in Gaza as nothing short of catastrophic. The region is grappling with a homeless population, minimal electricity, and scarce food and clean water resources. The medical system teeters on the brink of collapse. Despite the WHO passing an emergency motion to secure more medical access, the director-general expressed doubt about the feasibility of improving the situation under the current circumstances.

Adding to the crisis, Gaza hospitals are facing bombardment, being besieged or raided, and the health system has been reduced to a third of its pre-conflict capacity. Since October 7, there have been 449 attacks on healthcare facilities in Palestinian territories. The emergency motion by WHO has been criticized by Israel, claiming it places disproportionate focus on Israel and does not address Hamas' use of civilians as human shields.

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Rising Diseases and Dwindling Medicines

The collapsed healthcare system has exacerbated an already dire situation. Palestinians, displaced and living in harsh, cold conditions, are dealing with a surge in communicable diseases. Cases of jaundice, hepatitis A, and meningitis are on the rise. The scarcity of antibiotics has resulted in deaths from post-operative infections among the wounded. Older people and the chronically ill are unable to access care and medication. The onset of winter is causing further alarm, with rain, storms, and cold weather causing tents to scatter and diseases to spread.

Healthcare System in Agony

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The critical situation of the health system in the Gaza Strip has reached the attention of the international community. Hospitals are unable to accommodate the influx of Gazans needing emergency care. Philippe Lazzarini, director of the UNRWA, warned that their ability to continue delivering their mandate in Gaza is now critically limited. Al Awda hospital, for instance, has been attacked six times since the war in Gaza began on October 7.

International Tensions and the Healthcare Crisis

An online dispute has emerged between the WHO and Israel after the UN health body claimed that the Israeli army ordered the removal of supplies from its warehouse in southern Gaza, an allegation Israel has denied. The WHO has recorded an unprecedented number of attacks on the strip’s healthcare system, including 203 on hospitals, ambulances, medical supplies, and the detention of healthcare workers.

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The collapse of the truce has led to a further deterioration of an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Intensifying military ground operations in Khan Younis are likely to cut thousands off from healthcare, especially from the area’s two main hospitals, as the number of wounded and sick increases.

Failing Healthcare Infrastructure

The Gaza healthcare system is collapsing, with only 14 out of 36 hospitals partially functional, leading to overcrowding and the spread of diseases. The WHO chief expressed regret that a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire failed to pass. Israeli officials have vowed to eradicate Hamas from Gaza, while the UN Secretary General continues to call for a ceasefire despite the US veto.

In conclusion, the Gaza Strip is in a dire state, grappling with a collapsed healthcare system amidst ongoing conflict. The international community must act swiftly and decisively to mitigate this humanitarian crisis and restore essential healthcare services to the region.

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