Health officials in Gaza have warned of an impending health catastrophe in the conflict stricken enclave, expressing fears that over crowding in the UN-run schools may give rise to the spread of infectious diseases. The situation has been worsened by a massive shortage of health supplies at the regions various hospitals.
More than half a million Gazans have been forced to evacuated their homes over the past month, as a result of an intensive assault launched by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Of those, 220 000 are country residing in UN-run schools, which are being used as makeshift shelters.
Highlighting the conditions of those refugees in the embattled Strip, Dr Bassel Abu-Warda, a doctor at the al-Shifa hospital, said Gazans were struggling to grapple with worsening food, water, and electricity shortages. A number of hospitals in Gaza have been hit hard by the loss of electricity, with Dr Abu-Warda noting that the al-Shifa hospital in particular was now solely dependent on a generator.
“Nobody knows what will happen if this generator stops running because of over use and lack of fuel. We already have a lack of fuel here in Gaza, so this is how the situation looks here in Gaza,” he explained.
The Gaza Health Ministry has warned of a looming health sector crisis, especially in the UN refugee shelters, where overcrowding and lack of clean water was making it particularly difficult to contain the spread of disease.
“Some of these individuals have not taken baths for at least 30 days. There is no water, and nothing for them to even take a bath with,” he said.
The busy doctor has been tweeting his experiences from the over burdened hospital. Dr Abu-Warda made news headlines around the world when he tweeted a photo of quadruplets which he delivered to a Palestinian mother, in the midst of all the chaos.
Dr Abu-Warda is spearheading the Save Gaza Project, which aims to provide various forms of assistance to those displaced in the region. The campaign’s objective range from provide shelter for the refugees, to addressing the rise in cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst Gaza’s children.
The physician noted that according to U.N statistics, nearly 300 000 children in the region were affected by PTSD and in urgent need of psychological therapy. With a quarter of Gaza’s population falling under the youth bracket, he was concerned the effects of this conflict would leave a long lasting impact on the younger generation.
“Psychological therapy is important for these kids to be able to function properly. We have seen and witness children wetting their beds, crying without any reason, and unable to play because they are frightened and afraid to do anything,” he noted.
With more than 3000 children injured as a result of the conflict and a further 460 having been killed, Dr Abu-Warda suspected the Israeli military were intentionally targeting the youth. He suggested they were aiming to create ‘a generation of disabled Gaza’s children’, one that would struggle greatly with the effects of depression.
He also hailed the Palestinian spirit in the face of adversity, saying they would not stand back and accept their oppression under the Israeli any longer.
“This nation endures and our spirit has not been broken,” he said.
For more information in how you can assist with the Save Gaza Project, visit savegazaproject.org. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)