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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
14 June 2007

Health situation in Gaza
June 14, 2007

1. Health sector overview

· The situation in Gaza remains very tense. Since the 9th of June, the number of Palestinian fatalities due to the factional violence reached a tall of 77 deaths - including 2 UNRWA staff members1 - and 350 injured, and it is continuously rising.
· In several cases, health facilities have been directly affected by the violence: Episodes of exchange of fire have happened inside public hospitals2; two ambulances were hijacked by militants, according to the MoH
· Access to health care is extremely difficult for lack of security in the streets. Health workers are hardly managing to reach their working places.
· PHC facilities are only partially functioning since the 11th of June.
· Hospital services are limited to emergency services, which are functioning under great pressure. Emergency wards are overloaded with patients in need of emergency care.
· There is a lack of blood units for transfusion, due to inability of people to reach the banks for blood donations. Some surgery procedures are hampered for lack of specialized kits, mainly for vascular surgery.
· Some lab equipment (auto-analyzer for chemistry laboratory tests) are missing in Shifa hospital as the two available machines are currently out of order. Other needs include: food for hospitals, X- Ray films and fuel for ambulances.

2. Health response

a. Information and Coordination

§ WHO is monitoring the emergency needs on the health sector, through constantly liaising with the MoH and the other main health providers.
§ An emergency meeting was organized by WHO at the MoH premises in Gaza, on Thursday 14th, with the participation of ICRC, Italian Cooperation, OCHA and MoH. The following needs were identified: blood units, food for the hospitals, 20 surgical kits, fuel for emergency ambulances and emergency beds. Evacuation of the injured emerged as a major problem.
§ UN Agencies convened a Heads of Agency Meeting on June 13th, to discuss the crisis. For the health sector, WHO took responsibility in coordinating the emergency response and producing a regularly updated response matrix (attached).

b. Filling the gaps

§ Drugs, consumables and laboratory supplies, are currently provided by WHO, according to some identified emergency needs. WHO and ICRC are liaising with the IDF and MoH to coordinate the entry of drugs and consumables through Erez checkpoint from the West Bank. UNICEF is planning the procurement of health emergency and trauma kits for the MoH and the PRCS.

§ Food supply to Hospitals has been provided by WFP and ICRC.

§ A public campaign for blood donation is currently being organized by several organizations including UHWC (Pal. NGO) and the Central Drug Bank association.
MAP-UK made available a complete blood donation facility (tent equipped with 5 beds, 550 blood bags, all material and equipment needed) that will be made operational by a team of MAP (to bring the equipment to its destination and set it up) and a team of Shifa Hospital (nurses, laboratory staff).

§ The referral abroad of patients to hospitals in Egypt is prevented by the closure of Rafah border. WHO, OCHA and ICRC are engaged to have the border reopened for emergency cases.

§ ICRC is coordinating with several militant factions to allow health staff to reach their working places and is also providing transportation for them.

c. Advocacy

§ In a joint UN statement issued on the 13th of June, UN organizations expressed their serious concern about the violations of the international humanitarian law including the attacks on hospitals, ambulances, extra judicial killings.

§ UNRWA issued a press release on June 12th stating that, with 80% of the refugee population totally aid dependant and a collapsed economy due to the international economic embargo, the internal violence has left Palestine refugees in unprecedented misery and despair.

§ In their press release on June 12th ICRC reiterated “that all sides must take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of civilians and those not involved in the fighting. The deliberate targeting of civilians, particularly women and children is unacceptable by any international standard”.

§ The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the resurgence of violence in Gaza which has reportedly left at least 20 people dead.

1Two UNRWA staff members were killed on the 13th of June while on duty.
2○ On 11 June, an episode of exchange of fire took place at Abu Yousef Al-Najar hospital in Rafah. The health staff went on strike for 3 hours to protest against this.
○ On 12th June at Beit Hanoun hospital four persons were killed inside the hospital and there was shooting inside the Gaza European Hospital
○ Several episodes of exchange of fire happened at Shifa hospital during the 9th, 10th and 11th June.

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