Treating the Gaza crisis
FP Blogger at Large Erica Silverman, Gaza City Erica Silverman, Gaza City correspondent for Cairo's Al-Ahram Weekly, is generously filing reports for Passport this week. Today, she tours a hospital in the Gaza Strip.–CO Since Israel took out the main power station in Gaza at the end of June, hospitals have been hit especially hard. ...
FP Blogger at LargeErica Silverman, Gaza City
Erica Silverman, Gaza City correspondent for Cairo's Al-Ahram Weekly, is generously filing reports for Passport this week. Today, she tours a hospital in the Gaza Strip.–CO
Since Israel took out the main power station in Gaza at the end of June, hospitals have been hit especially hard. Dr. Juama As-Saqqa, public relations director of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the main hospital in the strip, recently gave me a tour.
The hospital is being powered exclusively by generators. On Sunday, Dr. As-Saqqa said, Shifa received enough fuel from the EU to run their generators for the next ten days, but warned "if the generators stop, at least 20 patients will die instantly, first premature babies and intensive care patients." Air conditioning for all six operating rooms has been turned off because it is too taxing on the generators. Drugs are going bad for lack of refrigeration, and the morgue is unable to preserve bodies. Dr. As-Saqqa says that other Gaza hospitals, such as Kahn Younis, are all in similar straits.
The Palestinian healthcare system was already crumbling prior to this current crisis. The U.S. and the EU suspended assistance to Palestinian ministries after the Hamas-led government was sworn into office. Healthcare workers haven't been paid salaries in months. More after the jump.
Shifa's intensive care unit is a catalogue of human suffering. I slip my arms into a white drape and begin to walk through the wards. Seventeen-year-old Awad Abu Hassan was asleep in bed when his home was struck by an Israeli missile, leaving his legs crushed. His physician tells me he may not walk again. Awad and his brother survived the attack, but his mother and seven siblings perished. Unable to speak, he raised his index finger to me (a gesture meaning "there is no God but Allah"). In the bed next to him is a 65-year-old woman in a coma, her eyes swollen shut. She was shot in the head by an Israeli Apache helicopter nine days ago in northern Gaza. Nearby a young woman stands over her eight-year-old son Rami, stroking the sole of his foot, the only area on his body not charred black from burns caused by Israeli missiles fired into in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.
Hospital staff, already short on medical supplies and anesthesia, are overwhelmed with a steady stream of frantic patients. "Drugs should be brought directly to hospitals, instead of sitting at [Israeli] checkpoints until they spoil," said Dr. As-Saqqa. Karni, the only commercial crossing for import and export of goods like medical supplies to Gaza, has been sealed shut for half of this year.
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