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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
4 January 2009

Health Situation in Gaza - 4 January 2009


This is an update on the health sector situation since the Israeli air strikes started at 11.15 on 27 December 2008.

· WHO is working with the Palestinian Ministry of Health and international and local organizations to coordinate assistance to the health sector.
· WHO held three meetings with health partners in Jerusalem, Gaza and the MoH in Ramallah. It was agreed information on drugs and supplies donations be shared with WHO and MoH in Ramallah to assess needs.
· A paramedic and a doctor were killed in an air strike while trying to evacuate casualties in the Northern Gaza Strip.
· Lack of surgical staff in hospitals while war surgeons are waiting for access.
· 45 ambulances are waiting on the Egyptian side to evacuate patients.
· All Gaza crossings were closed today.

UNOSAT: Situation map: Gaza crisis 31 December 2008


As of noon on 4 January, the Ministry of Health (MoH) figures reported 485 dead, of which at least 70 are children and 30 are women. A further 2400 have been injured, out of which at least 500 are children and 300 are women. Also as the same time, the MoH reports that 28 Palestinians have been killed and 110 injured since 3 January.


Electricity failure/ fuel supply

All Gaza City hospitals have been without electricity for 48 consecutive hours, depending entirely on back-up generators. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working to bring more fuel in to keep generators running. The hospitals warn that the generators are close to collapse even with services limited to the mere essentials. At the Shifa hospital alone, collapse would have immediate consequences for 70 intensive care unit (ICUs) patients including 30 in the neonatal care. Twelve operating rooms would also be immediately affected, in addition to shutting down the oxygen extractors, refrigerators for blood units and machines for emergency laboratory services. In addition, all hospitals would be without heating and lighting.

Health personnel

An ICRC team of war surgeons has been waiting since 2 January to be granted access to Gaza to address the lack of surgical staff. They have now received notification that they will be granted access when Erez re-opens but the crossing was closed today. A Norwegian NGO, NORWAC, has one thoracic surgeon and one anaesthesiologist working at Shifa Hospital and hopes to send a logistic coordinator into Gaza in the next few days.

Insecurity, as well as damage to roads and bridges, is preventing staff from reaching health facilities.

Bed capacity and evacuations

While stabilized patients are being discharged as soon as possible to free up space in the hospitals, ICUs throughout the Gaza strip are overloaded and there is an urgent need to evacuate patients. Insecurity has prevented any evacuations through Rafah today. Evacuations are further hindered by the destruction of two bridges yesterday.


An ambulance of the Union of Health Care Workers/ Al Awda hospital was hit this morning while on its way to evacuate a patient. The driver and two paramedics were wounded and the ambulance destroyed.


WFP distributed bread to 13 hospitals in the Gaza strip yesterday but has not been able to cover the Dire Albalah area.

Damage to hospitals

Windows at the Dorah and Gaza Paediatrics’ hospital have not yet been repaired and are still covered with plastic sheeting.

Primary health care centres

4 UNRWA health centres (Maen, Shouka, Zaitoun, Naser) were closed today because of military operations. The remaining 14 centres are open for emergency services.


No evacuations have been made through Rafah today. While 45 ambulances are waiting on the Egyptian side to transport patients to Egyptian hospitals, insecurity and damage to bridges and roads prevent ambulances from reaching Rafah. ICRC is working to coordinate the safe exit of patients.

WHO and NGOs are stationing staff on the Egyptian side of Rafah to work on referrals as well as imports through Rafah.


Trucks with drugs and consumables reached all MoH hospitals yesterday but shortages are still reported. Efforts are ongoing to create an inventory of the supplies that have reached Gaza and to map remaining needs. Donors are still asked to hold further in-kind contributions until further information of actual needs, as well as remaining storage space, is available.

All Gaza crossings have been closed today, and no supplies have been allowed in.


An emergency operational room has been set up by the PA Ministry of Health (Ramallah) in collaboration with WHO to follow up the health situation. The operation room will provide assessments of requirements (pharmaceuticals, consumables, equipments and spare parts), follow up on the response of the international community and address referrals of injured and other patients.

Situation report in PDF format [pdf 487kb]


Munia Abu El Hawa,
Tel.: 054 802 2753 (Ramallah).

Old Nablus Road – Sheikh Jarrah POBox 54812 – Jerusalem 91547 Tel: +972 2 540 0595 Fax: + 972 2 581 0193 Email:

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