Urgent appeal to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the gaza strip

Dear friends,

As physicians, nurses and other healthcare personnel, we are called on by the Hippocratic Oath to give treatment to help the sick. But what if necessary, life-saving treatment in its most obvious form – medication and necessary medical equipment – is unavailable?

This is what is happening in Gaza, where a third of necessary medications and more than 270 items of medical equipment needed for surgery are now missing. Tens of thousands of patients are affected, particularly sufferers of cystic fibrosis, cancer patients and babies with developmental problems.

Last Thursday, a delegation of five of our physicians entered the Strip to provide 300,000 NIS of necessary items, but these barely made a dent in the huge need of Gaza’s residents. Our volunteers also carried out five surgeries — more were planned, but had to be delayed as a result of unavailable medical equipment. Indeed, Fentanyl, a potent pain management medication also widely used widely for anesthesia, is due to run out soon.

As Salah Haj Yahia, Director of the Mobile Clinic, observed in the delegation’s mission to the Strip, “This has been the most difficult visit since the 2014 war – the need is huge, and this visit highlighted how our current ability to meet that need is insufficient. It was extremely hard to leave Gaza, and leave the doctors and patients that requested our help behind.”

This crisis is a direct result of a combination of factors, including the 10-year blockade placed on Gaza and more recently, infighting between Hamas and the Palestinian authority and the latter’s decision to dramatically reduce the budget given to Gaza to operate its 13 government hospitals and 54 primary health centers. From April, when the budget provided was 4 million dollars, it has now been reduced to only half a million dollars. Today we also published that the Palestinian Authority has almost completely reduced financial coverage for patients requiring treatment outside of Gaza, preventing many from receiving treatment.

As a result of this struggle for power, whole shelves in the central warehouses are now empty. Those most affected are:

– Cancer patients, for whom 90% of the medications normally used are unavailable.
– 240 babies with enzyme deficiencies who are in need of therapeutic milk, which is, again, unavailable, and without which they will suffer life-long developmental problems.
– 321 people with cystic fibrosis who cannot receive the daily treatment they require due to severe shortages in Creon pills, Zinnat antibiotics and vitamins A and D. Compounding this shortage, these patients are unable to use inhalation devices to regulate their breathing as a result of the electricity cuts.

We call on you to help us alleviate the crisis through sending more humanitarian delegations, pressuring duty bearers to find solutions and ensuring this crisis is not forgotten, so that patients in Gaza will not be held hostage to political infighting.

To support this critical work and save lives in Gaza, PLEASE CLICK HERE

Yours truly, looking forward to keep working together despite the difficulties,
Professor Nadav Davidovitch, PHRI Board Member