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Medical Care in Gaza Under Siege

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Medical Care in Gaza Under Siege - by Stephen Lendman

Under siege, Israel continues to strangle Gaza. Poverty and unemployment are extremely high. Over 70% of the population requires humanitarian aid. Virtually everything is in short supply. Except for minimal amounts of some fruits, vegetables and flowers, exports are prohibited. Israel prevents access by sea and air. It's blockade is illegal but persists because Western powers and regional neighbors allow it.

Egypt's recent Rafah Crossing opening falls short of meeting Gaza's needs. On June 16, Gaza Gateway listed 10 reason why:

Crossings to Egypt remain limited, several hundred daily while 10,000 wish to travel. Moreover, it's for designated people only, not goods. Those allowed enter through Kerem Shalom Crossing.

The situation on both sides of the border is uncertain and unstable, including whether or not the opening will continue and under what conditions.

Rafah doesn't enable travel or movement of goods to the West Bank. Moreover, Gaza ID holders can't enter through Jordan.

As explained above, most exports are prohibited.

Except for approved international organization projects, importing construction materials is prohibited.

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Gazans needing unavailable medical care, are restricted in getting it in Egypt, the West Bank or East Jerusalem. Moreover, many can't make a long trip.

It's deeply troubling because Gaza's hospitals and other medical facilities are running out of medications and vital supplies, requiring cancellations or postponement of dozens of needed surgeries and other treatment. In fact, medications and other medical necessities haven't been supplied since February.

According to Gaza's Ministry of Health, 178 medications and 123 categories of medical supplies are exhausted. Moreover, 69 other medications and 70 types of supplies will run out in three months.

As a result, emergency measures have been taken, including canceling or suspending pediatric, ophthalmological, cardiac catheterization, endoscopic, urological, orthopedic, and other surgeries, as well as dental care, outpatient services, primary care, lab tests, medical imaging, children's and women's services, occupational health, and more.

In fact, a growing crisis threatens all Gazans needing care. Hospitals and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) report growing shortages and unavailability of many medications and supplies for ICUs, premature infant nurseries, operating rooms, anesthesia and recovery, emergency facilities, cardiac catheterization, hematology, oncology, nephritic diseases, and pediatrics.

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Gaza City's Ophthalmology Hospital director said eight surgeries in the past two days were postponed and others suspended for months. On June 12, Ramallah's Ministry of Health Public Relations and Information Department Director-General, Dr. Omar al-Nasser, said the Egyptian Medical Association would supply 19 vital medications soon. 

He also said arrangements would be coordinated with Israel to provide other medications and supplies from its own Ramallah and Nablus warehouses shortly, including 81 medications, surgical tools, and 130 other items.

Under siege, conditions are very uncertain with no assurance Israel or Egypt will accommodate vital needs, including life or death ones.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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