hits health care in Gaza
main reason for the worsening shortages of essential drugs and medical
supplies in the Gaza Strip is that the Palestinian Authority (PA)
Ministry of Health in the West Bank has not delivered enough drugs and
medical supplies to Gaza, according to the World Health Organisation
(WHO), international aid organisations and Gaza health ministry
WHO did not attribute the shortages to Israel’s more than three-year
blockade of the Strip. “Israeli authorities are not blocking the entry
of drugs and disposables to Gaza. They recognise these are priority
items for humanitarian needs,” said Tony Laurance, the WHO head in
Gaza’s health ministry is run by the Hamas-led government, but its funds
and supplies are provided by the PA, led by rival Palestinian faction
Fatah in the West Bank. Lack of communication between the two ministries
due to internal conflict is worsening an already crumbling healthcare
system in Gaza.
Thirty-eight percent of essential drugs such as antibiotic syrups for
children and cancer treatment drugs were out of stock in Gaza (defined
as less than one month’s supply at central level) in early 2011, WHO
reports. These shortages affect all health ministry facilities, which
provide 40% of primary health care and 80% of hospital care services in
“The PA [West Bank] health ministry is responsible for supplying Gaza
with the drugs and disposables for health ministry hospitals and health
clinics in Gaza. The deliveries they made in 2010 to Gaza were
significantly lower than in 2009,” Laurance told IRIN.
“The explanation given by the PA is that they are not being provided
with reliable information from the Gaza health ministry regarding what
drugs and disposables are available,” said Laurance.
According to WHO figures shown to IRIN, in 2010 only 40% of requested
drugs and medications were sent to Gaza by the PA health ministry, and
only 50% were sent in 2009.
The emergency room at Al-Nasser hospital in Gaza City, Gaza’s main
paediatric hospital, receives 250-400 children per week, and admitted
7,150 in 2010, said Nabil Bargouni director.
“For the past six months the hospital has been short of essential drugs
and supplies, such as laboratory kits for electrolyte analysis,” [which
tests the basic chemicals in the body] said Bargouni. “The shortages are
due to the conflict between the two health ministries,” he said.
Essential items missing or in short supply include latex gloves,
exchange transfusion sets for newborns, sutures, and even the basic
antiseptic ethyl alcohol, according to Maria Cecilia Goin, International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesperson in Jerusalem.
Bargouni said his requests to the PA health ministry in the West Bank
for desperately needed drugs and supplies have gone unanswered.
“Forty percent of the PA health ministry budget is supposed to be
allocated to Gaza, but now the Gaza health ministry has to apply on a
case-by-case basis to receive drugs and medical supplies,” said Gaza
health minister Baseem Naim. “We are asking the UN and other
international donors to establish a neutral system to guarantee a
consistent supply,” he added.
PA health minister Fathi Abu Moghli in the West Bank declined to comment
when contacted by IRIN. Max Gaylord, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for
the occupied Palestinian territory, told IRIN the UN would help if both
parties agreed, but stressed that “both sides should put political
differences aside and focus on the needs of the people of Gaza”.
PA health ministry officials say medical donations entering Gaza via the
Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border are filling the gap.
However, according to internal PA health ministry documents obtained by
IRIN, only 26% of donations received were according to Gaza’s needs.
WHO - Background note on drug shortages in Gaza
of upload: 25th Apr 2011