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WHO: Medical equipment still banned from Gaza

Ma'an news

18gaza-hospital.jpg

June 18, 2010

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Spare medical parts and replacements are, in practice, barred from entry into Gaza, or only arrive "after great delays," a World Health Organization spokesman told Ma'an on Friday.

Following the release of a report from the WHO on Gaza City's Ash-Shifa Hospital, the spokesman emphasized that beyond the impeded access to parts, engineers are unable to enter Gaza to service the equipment. "Life saving equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars has been held up in Ramallah for over six months," the statement said.

In the WHO's profile, it says that most of the medical diagnostic equipment in Ash-Shifa hospital, a 560-bed facility in Gaza City, remains out of order. The CT scan, MRI, mammography, endoscope and gastroscope, a statement said, have all been waiting for service or spare parts for months, in some cases years.

The blockade Israel has imposed on the territory for the past three years is affecting the functioning of medical equipment threefold, the report found, with prohibitions, delays, and lack of qualified service personnel and power cuts/surges damaging delicate machines.

The CT scanner, used to diagnose cancers, cardiovascular disease, appendicitis, and dozens of other conditions, has only been running from parts borrowed from other facilities, and, the WHO said, its "radiation levels are above international norms. Without an alternative, however, it is used about 15 times a day for emergencies."

According to the WHO report, a replacement machine is available in a warehouse in Ramallah, only "80 kilometres from Gaza city as the crow flies," the report noted, adding "it has been lying there for over six months," but has yet to receive clearance from Israeli crossings officials.

WHO officials say "patients with chronic diseases are particularly hard hit by the lack of appropriate equipment," particularly the 200 odd dialysis patients served three times every week. A lack of dialysis machines means patients receive only half their necessary treatment, exposing them to severe health risks, while others are asked to come in for treatment during the late hours of the night and early morning, the statement reported.






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