With the current death toll in the Gaza Strip standing at just over 500, mostly civilian casualties, local aid group the Gift of the Givers (GOTG) have announced an initiative to dispatch medical volunteers to the war-torn region.
Apart from a massive shortage of medical supplies, there is an urgent need for medical personnel in Gaza. Those most in demand include general and orthopaedic surgeons, ICU and general nurses, as well as trauma and emergency personnel, amongst others.
With more than 100 medical volunteers having already enrolled in the initiative, GOTG head Dr.Imtiaz Sooliman, said the community had shown their eagerness to assist the people of Gaza, despite the glaring dangers involved in travelling to the region.
However, despite the overwhelming support the organisation had received, Sooliman said the main issue they were encountering was the difficulty in trying to cross the Egyptian border into Gaza. He said they were currently in negotiations with the Egyptian government to organise safe passage into the country, and those currently enrolled with the initiative would remain on standby.
“There are two problems. One is that the bombing is too intense. Secondly, so many people can’t work in such a limited space, and there is also not much equipment or medical supplies,” he explained.
Sooliman also noted the difficulty in trying to keep the volunteers in the Gaza Strip for extended periods of time, with some spending no more than 48 hours in the region. In order to work around this issue, he said they would consider taking the personnel in smaller groups of around 5 or 6 people. They would also consider setting up a temporary hospital at the Southern border city of Rafah, where the very critical patients could be moved to.
“”Of course that is not going to be easy. Setting up the hospital itself is easy, but to get the permission is going to be a major problem,” he said.
He also highlighted the dreadful conditions doctors were being forced to work under at the various hospitals.
“As one of the doctors were saying yesterday, they are even operating in corridors. There is no issue of hygiene, just about saving the persons life. They have got to break all the rules, and just put up with it,” he said.
He welcomed medical specialists to continue putting their name forward as volunteers, but stressed that there was no guarantee they would get a chance to assist in the region.
Any medical personnel wishing to be apart of the GOTG initiative, can contact the organisation at 0800 786 911. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)