PCHR, June 15, 2011
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is deeply concerned over the cancellation of dozens of surgeries at hospitals in the Gaza Strip and postponement of others to unknown periods, due to the serious shortages in medications and medical supplies, as the Gaza Strip has not been supplied with medications and medical needs since last February. PCHR warns of the expected catastrophic deterioration to health conditions of the Palestinian population, including patients, especially those who suffer from chronic diseases, who have not been able to regularly obtain medications. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian President to immediately intervene to ensure immediate supplying of the Gaza Strip with necessary medications and medical consignment.
PCHR has observed over the past two weeks the devastating crisis of the shortages in medications and medical supplies in public health facilities, including hospitals, medical centers and clinics. According to investigations conducted by PCHR and statements issued by the Ministry of Health in Gaza, 178 types of medications and 123 types of medical supplies have run out, and an additional 69 types of medications and 70 types of medical supplies are expected to run out within the next three months.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza has been forced to take a series of emergency measures, including contraction of public health services, including surgeries, and suspension of some basic health services, such as dentistry, public and outpatient clinic. The Ministry has further reduced the work capacity in many other clinics and departments in public hospitals, including surgeries; has cancelled already scheduled surgeries, including pediatric surgeries, ophthalmological surgeries and cardiac catheterization; and has suspended other services of lab tests, medical imaging, endoscopic surgeries, urology, orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery. The Ministry has also declared contraction of health services in some primary health care centers and hospitals, including food and water control services, the child’s health, women’s health and occupational health. PCHR is concerned that such steps may impact the population of the Gaza Strip, and cause further deterioration to the already deteriorated health services.
According to information available to PCHR, primary care centers and hospitals face extreme difficulties as their warehouses have ran out of many types of medications they regularly provide to patients. Such medications include many necessary antibiotics and dozens of necessary medical supplies. Martyr Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital and the UAE Red Crescent Hospital in Rafah have warned of the repercussions of the shortage in medications and medical supplies on their patients, especially as they have been forced to use their emergency stocks.
The crisis of medical needs constitutes a vast obstacle to the work of medical crews in hospitals and medical centers in the Gaza Strip. PCHR’s field workers reported that dozens of necessary medical supplies have been unavailable in various departments, including ICU’s, nurseries of premature infants; operation rooms; anesthesia and recovery; emergency; cardiac catheterization; hematology and oncology; nephritic diseases; and pediatrics. The director of the Ophthalmology Hospital in Gaza City stated that they were forced to postpone 8 surgeries that were scheduled to be performed in the past two days for patients who suffer from cataract. He added that retinal surgeries have been stopped in the hospital for six months due to the chronic shortage in some medical needs and spare parts of some medical equipment.
Dr. Omar al-Nasser, Director-General of Public Relations and Information Department in the Ministry of Health in Ramallah, stated on Sunday, 12 June 2011, that 19 types of vital medications provided by the Egyptian Medical Association would be delivered to the central medical warehouses in the Gaza Strip soon. The Ministry of Health in Ramallah declared that it would coordinate with Israeli occupation authorities in order to supply central medical warehouses in the Gaza Strip with some medications and medical consumables from its warehouses in Ramallah and Nablus. According to Dr. Abu al-Nasser, the Ministry prepared lists that include more than 130 types of medical consumables and surgical tools, whose value is estimated at 2.5 million NIS, and of 81 types of medications, whose value is estimated at 6 million NIS, which are expected to be entered into the Gaza Strip in the next two days.
PCHR is deeply concerned over the deterioration of health conditions in the Gaza Strip, and:
1- PCHR calls for prompt intervention by the Palestinian President to ensure that the Ministry of Health in Ramallah supply all consignments of medications and medical supplies needed at health facilitates in the Gaza Strip. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian President and the Prime Minister in Ramallah to initiate thorough investigations into the reasons for the obstructed supply of medications and medical supplies, which had been approved in accordance with the budget of the Ministry of Health in Ramallah, to health facilities in the Gaza Strip, especially as such medications and medical supplies are available in the Ministry’s warehouses in the West Bank as indicated by Dr. Abu al-Nasser; and to hold those who are found responsible accountable.
2- PCHR calls for coordination between the Ministry of Health in Ramallah and its counterpart in Gaza to remove obstacles, especially under the current atmosphere of reconciliation.
3- PCHR calls upon the Ministry of Health in Ramallah to immediately supply all of the above-mentioned types of medications and medical supplies to avoid health risks threatening the lives of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
4- PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to pressurize the Israeli occupation authorities to lift the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip to stop the suffering of the Palestinian population, especially patients, and allow the delivery of urgent medications, medical consignments and spare parts to health facilities in the Gaza Strip.
5- PCHR reminds the Israeli occupation authorities of their legal obligations towards the population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), especially ensuring the free and secure flow of all medical consignments and foods to the population, and to provide them if the financial resources in the OPT do not suffice, according to international humanitarian law.