Kidney failure and cancer patients Continuous suffering due to the siege and the shortage of medicines
Patients in the Gaza Strip suffer from many problems that are intensified by the continuous siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for sixteen years. The lack of medicines, the closure of crossings, the prevention of a large percentage of medical referrals, or the refusal to grant patients permits for treatment inside the occupied territories, all of which increases the suffering and reduces the chances of treatment for a large number of patients.
Most of those who suffer in Gaza are patients with cancer and kidney failure, especially with the increase in cases of these diseases due to the unsafe and unclean environment in which they live, whether from soil, water or air pollution due to the policies of the Israeli occupation.
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Health, there are about 1,700 new cases of cancer annually in the Gaza Strip. In contrast, last year, the occupation forces prevented 35% of patients from receiving treatment in the occupied territories in 1948 or hospitals in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
In addition to the accumulation of hospital debts on the Palestinian Authority, as it does not pay the dues for the treatment of patients, which causes the patients to be refused and returned to Gaza after their arrival to the hospitals.
Such as the case of the 16-year-old child, Salim Al-Nawati, who was sick with leukemia, as he died at the beginning of the current year 2022 after a hospital in the occupied West Bank refused to receive him due to the accumulation of debts by the Palestinian Authority in favor of the hospital, which caused the death of the child without receiving treatment.
Due to the lack of important medical devices, especially radiotherapy and medical nuclear scans, reliance has increased on referring patients for treatment outside the Gaza Strip, which means that patients go through a long referral process that requires a set of complex procedures.
Including booking an appointment at the hospital to which it is transferred, and obtaining a permit issued by the Israeli occupation to cross the Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, and this may take several weeks, and in many cases the examination of the application is delayed without justification, or patients’ requests are rejected without reasons, or for reasons Frail, illogical, and not commensurate with the seriousness of the patient’s health condition.
As for renal failure patients, whose number is estimated at 1026, they rotate in dialysis sessions in 7 centers equipped with qualified and trained medical and nursing staff and containing 197 dialysis devices, after patients in the Gaza Strip were distributed only in two centers with only 62 dialysis devices.
The Ministry of Health was able to perform kidney transplants in an ambitious qualitative step and within a national program that was launched in 2013 and continued with merit and competence, during which 113 kidney transplants were performed with the participation of our medical and nursing teams, which engaged in many training programs locally and abroad.
However, the medical staff and kidney patients are concerned and fearful due to the continuing Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, which prevents the necessary medicines from reaching patients with kidney failure, or for those who have undergone kidney transplants, and the siege keeps them at risk of returning to long dialysis sessions, due to the absence of the necessary medicines for them.
As for the absence of medicines in the central warehouses of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the number of zero items in medical supplies reached 285 out of 853 basic items, bringing the deficit ratio to 33% of their items, in addition to 60 items whose balance is sufficient for less than three months, with a deficit rate of 10.2 %, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip.
Therefore, the continuous shortage of essential medicines and medical supplies negatively affects health services and their quality, which threatens the lives of patients and increases the financial burden on the poor among them, especially when they are forced to purchase medicines and medical supplies from non-governmental pharmacies.
In addition, the hospitals of the Gaza Strip suffer from a severe shortage of specialized and highly qualified medical personnel, and this negatively affects some medical and surgical specialties, the most important of which are oncology, family medicine, nephrology, ophthalmology, cardiac surgery, psychiatry, emergency medicine, and radiology. Rheumatology, pathology, and neurology.
Finally, this year, the Israeli occupation forces prevented the supply of new equipment for medical radiology services to hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
According to the follow-ups of human rights centers, the Israeli occupation authorities rejected several official requests to bring 8 fixed medical x-ray machines and 6 mobile x-ray machines into the Strip, in addition to a number of equipment needed to serve patients in hospitals.