Rafah opened to returnees only, high demand for Erez exit
• Rafah border: No access out to Egypt in May. The Egyptian side of the Rafah border with Gaza remained closed for exit in May but 1,629 people, including patients, were allowed to return to Gaza on three days, May 25 to 27, alleviating the humanitarian problem of stranded travellers. The border has been opened for only 5 days this year, in January for 3 days and March for 2 days, allowing only 42 patients to cross.
• Access: the number of patients' applications to exit Gaza via Erez in May was the highest ever: 1,814 patients applied for permits to cross Erez checkpoint: 84.29% of patients were approved. 13.23% received no response to their applications (240 patients, including 84 children and 12 over 60 years) and 2.48% were denied permits (45 patients, including 2 children and 8 over 60 years).
• Interrogations: 20 patients (5 females and 15 males) were requested to attend Israeli security interviews after applying for a permit. 4 patients were approved later.
High need for MOH referrals
• Ministry of Health referrals of Gaza patients in May was the second highest month recorded by WHO: According to the Ministry of Health Referral Abroad Department (RAD) in Gaza, 1,948 referrals were issued in May for specialized treatment unavailable in Gaza MoH health facilities. (March totals of 2,191 referrals were the highest ever recorded.) The increased need 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.
• Oncology, nuclear medicine and orthopedic surgery were the 3 top specialties needed in May (see page 2).
• Gender gap: The gender gap in Gaza referrals remained very wide: 57.29% male patients versus 42.71% female patients. 27.3% of all referrals were for children aged 0-17 years and 17.8% were for patients aged over 60 years.
• Estimated cost of referrals for April: NIS 9,344,595.