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Patients in Gaza are at risk, doctors warn

28 June 2024


A nine-month-old child, weighing 4.5kg, is treated at the clinic in Shejayie, in Gaza, last week

A nine-month-old child, weighing 4.5kg, is treated at the clinic in Shejayie, in Gaza, last week

DOCTORS in Gaza have alerted the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) to a severe shortage of medicines and antiobiotics.

Patients are also suffering from malnutrition and infections caught from living in overcrowded conditions; it is not uncommon for up to 100 people to shelter in a classroom, the MECC has said.

Dr Bassam Abu Hamad is working in a mobile health unit operated by the MECC department of services for Palestinian refugees. He said that the patients being treated were also suffering from malnutrition, anaemia, and chronic diseases such as hypertension, as well as mental illnesses, and that there was no medicine to offer them.

“There is a severe shortage of drugs needed for cancer, and even for antibiotics for the children,” he said. “In terms of equipment, it’s even more complicated, because the health-care system has been destroyed. Many ambulances have been completely destroyed.”

His colleague, Lubna Yousif Sabbah, said: “For health needs, what we are seeing now are the need for complementary feeding and supplements for children under five, and pregnant and lactating women who suffer from malnutrition due to food insecurity and starvation. We need medicines to treat patients who suffer from infectious diseases, and many other diseases due to crowded shelters.”

They also lack access to safe, clean water, and dressings.

Dr Hamad asked for prayer for the staff, who were “sacrificing themselves” to help patients. “Please pray for us, pray for peace,” he said.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, told Vatican Radio this week that the region was “living through a very long night”. The situation “was very deteriorated, and it is very difficult to see ways out”, he said.

But, he continued, “we also know that nights end. It is the time when the Church must be present in the territory, be close, and work with all those who are willing to do something beautiful and good for everyone. When everyone erects barriers against each other, the Church must always keep its hand extended to the other. This is our task born from our experience of faith: it is what we are called to do at this moment.”

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