Gaza: ‘WHO Delivering Supplies To Hospitals, Amidst Intense Hostilities’

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World Health Organisation (WHO) teams, in collaboration with partners have undertaken high-risk missions to deliver crucial supplies to hospitals in northern and southern Gaza, where intense hostilities have led to high patient loads and overcrowding caused by displaced individuals seeking refuge.

The WHO director-general, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus reiterated the urgent need for the international community to intervene and alleviate the grave peril faced by the population of Gaza. The conflict not only poses a threat to the lives of the people but also endangers the ability of humanitarian workers to assist those with injuries, acute hunger and a severe risk of disease.

In the latest high-risk mission, WHO teams visited Al-Shifa Hospital in the north and Al-Amal Palestine Red Crescent Society in the south on Tuesday, December 26,2023. These hospitals also function as shelters for displaced people. Al-Shifa Hospital, for instance, is sheltering around 50,000 people, while Al-Amal has approximately 14,000. WHO delivered essential supplies, including fuel for Al-Shifa Hospital to maintain critical health services and medical supplies in collaboration with UNICEF.

At Al-Amal, WHO staff witnessed the aftermath of recent strikes, affecting the hospital’s infrastructure, including the radio tower and central ambulance dispatch system. The hospital’s capacity has been significantly compromised, with only five out of nine ambulances still functioning. The hospital is overcrowded, with limited facilities for sanitation, posing challenges to patient care and the well-being of those seeking refuge.

The WHO team, while transiting across Gaza, observed tens of thousands of people fleeing heavy strikes, which will likely strain health facilities further. The forced mass movement increases the risk of infectious diseases and complicates the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The WHO representative in WHO’s office for the West Bank and Gaza, Dr. Rik Peeperkorn expressed extreme concern about the strain on health facilities, emphasising the urgent need for a ceasefire to prevent further loss of hospitals and medical infrastructure.

The latest WHO assessments indicate that Gaza has 13 partially functioning hospitals, 2 minimally functioning ones and 21 non-functioning ones. Nasser Medical Complex, a crucial referral hospital in southern Gaza, is partially functional, but the recent evacuation orders for residential areas around the hospital are alarming.

The need for food remains acute across Gaza, with people stopping convoys in the hope of finding food. WHO’s ability to supply medicines, medical supplies and fuel to hospitals is increasingly constrained by the hunger and desperation of the people.

Ghebreyesus emphasised the need for an immediate ceasefire to protect civilians from further violence and initiate the long road towards reconstruction and peace. The recent United Nations Security Council resolution has yet to impact aid distribution significantly on the ground. Urgently needed is a ceasefire to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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