Rafah closed, Erez remains difficult
• Rafah border: April was the second month in 2015 that the border terminal was completely closed by Egypt in both directions for all travellers, including for patients and medical aid. The Rafah border with Egypt has been opened for 5 of the 120 days this year, in January for 3 days and March for 2 days).
• Access through Erez: 1,539 patients applied for permits to cross Erez checkpoint: 83.04% of patients were approved. 15.79% received no response to their applications (243 patients, including 91 children and 12 over 60) and 1.17% were denied permits (18 patients, including 2 children and 2 elderly).
• Interrogations: 19 patients (4 females and 15 males) were requested to attend Israeli security interviews after applying for a permit. None of them was approved.
MOH referrals increase significantly
• April was the second highest month in number of Ministry of Health referrals of Gaza patients, recorded by WHO: According to the Ministry of Health Referral Abroad Department (RAD) in Gaza, 1,913 referrals were issued in April for specialized treatment unavailable in Gaza in MoH health facilities, 26% more than the monthly average in 2014. (The 2,191 referrals in March were the highest ever recorded.) The higher need for referrals may be a result of the cumulative shortages in medicines and medical capacity in Gaza, as well as the closure of Rafah which has reduced access particularly for private patients and encouraged more patients to seek treatment from the Ministry of Health.
• Gender gap: The gender gap in Gaza referrals remained very wide: 59.12% male patients versus 40.88% female patients. 28.3% of all referrals were for children aged 0-17 years and 17% were for patients aged over 60 years.