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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
6 August 2014






HIGHLIGHTS





Situation update

Casualties now exceed the number of the previous two conflicts in Gaza combined, in 2008-9 and in 2012. From initial assessments, 3,000 structures have been completely destroyed and 30,000 damaged.

A ceasefire began August 5 following several days of intense violence in many areas in the Gaza Strip. The Ministry of Health (MoH) estimates that at least 100 people may have been buried under rubble of destroyed buildings but ambulances could not evacuate them during the continuous violence. Three ambulance workers were killed evacuating patients in Rafah. Several hospitals reported damages, forcing one hospital to close, and were facing shortages of services staff and fuel, water and food due to difficult access and supply lines being cut. One-third of hospitals and one-half of primary health clinics are closed due to damage or due to being in an insecure location for staff and patients.

286,987 displaced persons are now sheltering in 90 UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools prepared as temporary shelters, with the average number of persons per shelter rapidly increasing. The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) reported that 15,741 persons were in government schools and public buildings, and 200,000 are estimated to be with host families.

Hospitals

Hospitals are treating a constant influx of new casualties in already overcrowded facilities and with vastly reduced supply of electricity, following last week's destruction of the Gaza power plant and most of the main power lines into Gaza from Israel. Only 40% of hospital staff have been able to report for work and existing health staff are fatigued, with critical staff working 24-hours shifts. Resources are limited: donated medical supplies had been maintaining only minimum levels of essential medicines due to the heavy caseload of wounded.

The Gaza European Hospital, located in an area where access has become dangerous, between Rafah and Khan Younis, reported stoppage of its water supplies, forcing the 250-bed hospital to bring water by trucks which can supply only 50% of its needs. On August 2 one of its two main generators failed, the daily supply of bread did not reach the hospital, and the laundry services were not working due to the manager not able to report to work.

Primary health care

More than 17,000 patients utilized UNRWA's 13 open clinics on August 2 and 3, higher than the pre-war average of 14,000 patients a day. Currently more than 30% of clinic patients are displaced persons staying in shelters.

WHO and UNRWA are monitoring health in shelters in order to prevent and control any outbreak of communicable disease. A team of WHO, UNRWA and UNICEF visited three shelters for displaced persons on August 2 and found them to be crowded, and in need of water for washing and basic hygienic kits. One non-UNRWA center lacked drinking water. About 5% of the shelter population was being referred to nearby clinics or hospitals for health care, many of whom were children with diarrhea. UNRWA reports that diarrhea is within the ordinary range and there are no obvious outbreaks of disease reported so far.

With water and sanitation facilities unable to function, the public health situation has become very difficult for most households without generator power, and for the several hundred thousand of displaced persons who have sought refuge in UNRWA and government shelters.

Health structure damages (see Annex)

The only government hospital serving the Rafah district, the 80-bed Abu Yousef Najjar Hospital, was damaged on August 1, at a time when it was receiving more than 200 casualties from heavy bombardments of surrounding neighborhoods, and 39 bodies were brought to the morgue, overwhelming capacity. The hospital's electricity and water lines were also damaged. On August 2 the hospital administration decided to evacuate patients and staff to the Kuwait Field Hospital to the west and to hospitals in other districts, and the Ministry of r Health later announced the closure of the hospital. On August 6, the hospital was reported to be reopened and receiving patients.

Both Najjar Hospital and Shifa Hospital received anonymous phone calls on August 1 theatening the hospital

staff with an imminent attack, and causing panic. Telephoned warnings preceded attacks on al Wafa hospital in Gaza, which was evacuated and later destroyed.

Al Amal Hospital compound in Khan Younis was hit by a missile which impacted the top floor of its multipurpose building, where its guest house, rehabilitation department, mental health department, and the hospital administration are located.

The Cardiac Hospital in Gaza, operated by the Public Aid Society, suffered damage to the cardiac lab, administration building, windows and an ambulance and one person was injured.

Al Asqa Hospital reported being hit on the roof by a missile on July 30 which caused major damage to the female medical department and injured a nurse on July 30. The hospital has been working at 50% capacity following an attack on July 21 in which 6 people died.

Three UNRWA clinics were damaged on August 3 and 4 for the second time, Bureij, Maan and Tel al Sultan in the eastern and southern areas of Gaza. In total, nine UNRWA clinics out of 21 have been damaged since July 7.

Ambulance services

A Ministry of Health ambulance evacuating patients from Najjar Hospital was hit shell and three paramedics killed. A total of five ambulance workers have been killed since July 7, 3 from the MoH and 2 from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

Referrals of patients to facilities outside Gaza

The Ministry of Health in Gaza is planning to refer more patients to outside hospitals to access life-saving treatment as well as to reduce the case load in the hospitals to a more managable level. The average number of referrals per month is 1250 patients, primarily seeking treatment in the main East Jerusalem specialty hospitals and in West Bank hospitals. The lack of security for patients to travel to Erez and the chaotic situation of referral procedures reduced the number in July to about 20% of normal. Ambulances required special security coordination to take patients to Erez during the military incursion in the north, but now the main north-south access route, Salah ad-Din Street, is accessible without coordination.

Improvement is being made in matching patients to particular destination hospitals by the needed specialization, streamlining the bureaucracy involved in referral procedures, and arranging for transportation for patients and accommodations for their companions. Reported Israeli efforts to divert patients to a field clinic set up within the Erez terminal also complicates the passage of patients through Erez. There is also the permit system bureaucracy for patients and companions in obtaining required permits and security clearance. For the past three years, men aged 18-40 have been much more likely to be called for a security interview and refused a permit, yet this cohort represents the greater number of casualties in this war.

Only seven PRCS ambulances are licensed and able to go to Erez checkpoint. There are efforts underway to expand this by mobilizing other ambulances. Cars can also be used for normal referral patients if access to Erez, permits and other logistical matters are facilitated. There are other issues involved in referring patients which the MoH, ICRC, WHO and the East Jerusalem hospitals are trying to address at the moment.

The 250-bed Makassed Hospital is the main referral hospital in East Jerusalem for Gaza and West Bank patients. It reported receiving only 30 patients from Gaza since July 7, as well as 350 emergency cases from Jerusalem and the West Bank from recent clashes, all of whom it treats without charge. In a statement issued on August 5, the hospital appealed for US$ 5 million for medicines, disposables and medical equipment.

Public health concerns


Health needs, priorities and gaps
WHO action

On August 2, the WHO together with the UN Office for Humanitarian Coordination in the occupied Palestinian territory and UNRWA issued a statement warning of a "rapidly unfolding" health disaster in Gaza. http://www.emro.who.int/countries/pse/index.html

A WHO team will be engaged in a week-long rapid assessment of the health sector to estimate health restoration and reconstruction needs in the coming days with OCHA and a comprehensive assessment later organized by UNDP. "Recovery needs will be enormous", according to WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr. Ala Alwan on August 3.

WHO is working with health partners including the MoH, ICRC, MAP-UK and PRCS on improving the process of referrals, access and treatment destinations for casualties and other patients.

WHO procurements of medical aid and donations from Bahrain are being tranferred to the MoH in Gaza in the coming days.

Resource mobilization

The Ministry of Health reported donations from more than 30 UN agencies, international humanitarian organizations, governments, charities and businesses totalling US$ 15 million.

Contact:

WHO West Bank and Gaza Country Office Contact: Dr. Mahmoud Daher
Tel: +972-598944650
Website: http://www.emro.who.int/palestine


ANNEX

Table 1. Hospitals in Gaza closed and/or damaged since July 7

Hospital
Provider
Bed
Type
District
Location
Closed
Damaged
1
Kamal Adwan
MOH
108
general
North Gaza
North Gaza
2
Beit Hanoun
MOH
66
general
North Gaza
Beit Hanoun
xx
oo
3
Alawdeh
NGO
85
general
North Gaza
Tel al Zaatar
4
Al Shawa specialized
NGO
15
maternity
North Gaza
Beit Hanoun
xx
5
Balsam military
PMMS
68
general
North Gaza
north Beit Lahiya
xx
oo
6
Al Karameh specialized
NGO
25
general
North Gaza
Ard a-Shanti
oo
7
Psychiatric
MOH
28
psychiatry
Gaza
Nasser
8
Ophthalmic
MOH
42
ophthalmic
Gaza
Nasser
9
Rantisi Specialised Pediatric
MOH
54
pediatric
Gaza
Nasser
10
El Durra Pediatric
MOH
91
pediatric
Gaza
Tuffah
xx
oo
11
Al Nasser Pediatric
MOH
120
pediatric
Gaza
Nasser
12
Shifa
MOH
890
general
Gaza
North Rimal
00
13
Harazeen Obstetrics
MOH
6
obstetrics
Gaza
Shajieyah
xx
14
Al Wafa Medical Rehabilitaion
NGO
50
rehab
Gaza
Shajieyah
xx
oo
15
Asahaba Medical
NGO
36
surgical
Gaza
Al Daraj
16
Cardiac
NGO
37
cardiac surg
Gaza
Al Samer
oo
17
Ophthalmic Specialized
NGO
2
ophthalmic
Gaza
Al Rimal
xx
18
Al Ahli Arab
NGO
80
general
Gaza
Palestine Sq.
00
19
Al Quds
NGO
49
general+ diagnos
Gaza
Tel al Hawa
oo
20
Public Aid Hospital
NGO
26
general
Gaza
Sabra
oo
21
Patients' Friends
NGO
49
general
Gaza
Gaza strip
22
Jordanian Field
JMS
44
general
Gaza
Tel Al Hawa
23
Al Aqsa Martyrs
MOH
164
general
Middle area
DeirAl Balah
oo
24
Jaffa
NGO
20
general
Middle area
DeirAl Balah
xx
25
Gaza European
MOH
249
general
Khan Younis
E. Khan Younis
oo
26
Al Amal
NGO
100
general+ rehabili
Khan Younis
Amal
00
27
Dar al Salam
NGO
16
general
Khan Younis
Al Sater Al Sharqi
28
Algerian Specialized
PMMS
30
general
Khan Younis
Abasan al Kabira
xx
oo
29
Nasser
MOH
322
general
Khan Younis
West Khan Younis
30
Al Helal al Emirati Maternity
MOH
62
maternity
Rafah
Tel El Sultan
31
Kuwaiti Specialized
NGO
22
surgical
Rafah
Rafah
32
Yousef Najjar
MOH
80
general
Rafah
Rafah
reopened
oo

PMMS = Palestinian Medical Military Services
JMS = Jordanian Military Services
Source: Ministry of Health, Gaza.

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