Friday, June 24, 2011

Gaza Strip Medical Crisis

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated places on Earth, with about 1.7 million people in an area which is roughly “slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC.” [1] While Gaza’s inhabitants are already dealing with the illegal Israeli blockade in the name of ‘security reasons,’ a bad situation is getting even worse as the medical situation in Gaza deteriorates.

The situation is so extreme that out of a sum of 178 types of medications and 123 types of medical supplies have run out in Gaza and the Gazan Ministry of Health has had to declare emergency measures. [2] The effects of this may be far reaching because if people who have major health problems aren’t able to get their medicine, they may very well die. Also patients who need surgeries may have to go without. Ma’an News Agency reported two weeks ago that Hamas Health Minister Bassem Naem “announced that pre-scheduled surgeries would be canceled, including children's operations, cardiac catheterization, laparoscopic surgery and bone and nerve operations.” [3]

While this situation is horrid, the Israeli blockade is not entirely to blame. Fatah is also aiding in this medical crisis as “
Over the past five years, Gaza's Ministry of Health has complained that the shortage of medication is due to the Fatah government in Ramallah,” [4] yet Fatah denies this allegation. There is suspicion that the US and Israel are playing politics and are actively making sure that the Gaza Strip does not get the medical supplies it needs. Naem stated “that the US and Israel exert pressure on the PA not to send medicines and medical supplies to Gaza in an attempt to weaken the formation of the new Palestinian national unity government. “ [5] Without a doubt, the US and Israel have major sway with Fatah and both are opposed to the new Palestinian unity government, thus a situation such as the one Naem mentioned is plausible.

Also due to the depth of the crisis, it has caused many Gazans to seek medical help from West Bank and Israeli hospitals, however, leaving the Gaza Strip “requires an exit permit for each patient to pass through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing” and seeing as how Israel recently “denied access to ten-month-old Ismail Salameh, who was to receive medical treatment in an Israeli hospital, a process coordinated and financially covered by Ramallah's health ministry,” [6] the situation does not look hopeful for Gazans. If Israel would deny a ten-month old child from receiving medical treatment, they’ll easily deny anyone else.

The worst part of this crisis is that innocent people, especially children (as 43.9% of Gazans are in between the ages of 0 and 14 [7]), are going to be hurt. The Tehran Times reported on Anwar Nahdid, an 18 year 
old, who suffers from early diabetes. Due to lack of medication she has severely blurred vision. [8] No one should have to suffer like this because of an aggressive foreign government and two-faced partner.

Al Jazeera did a video on the medical crisis:

The people of Gaza need major medical aid. While groups like Miles of Smiles are bringing aid into Gaza [9], they only provide temporary assistance, and the only way to end this is for Israel to end its siege of Gaza so that medical supplies can freely flow into Gaza and for Fatah to live up to its financial obligations. Otherwise, the people of Gaza will suffer and anti-Israel sentiment will only grow and the Palestinian unity government could be put into jeopardy and with it the Palestinian UN statehood bid.


5: Ibid

6: Ibid

No comments: