Gaza hospitals suffering from lack of medicine

Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:12am EDT
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By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - The nearly empty corridors of Gaza's main Shifa Hospital on Monday testified to the ailing state of health care in the Hamas-controlled territory.

A crisis-level shortage of drugs and spare parts for medical equipment and a two-month-old strike by health care workers have combined to add more misery to the lives of the 1.5 million inhabitants of the impoverished Gaza Strip.

At Shifa Hospital, kidney patient Ibrahin Ghosha waited in vain for a technician to fix a dialysis machine.

"It's all about luck. One time you come and the machine is working, the other time, it is out of order," Ghosha said.

Last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said virtually no medical supplies were reaching the Gaza Strip, putting the lives of several hundred seriously ill patients at risk.

The number of surgical operations has fallen by 40 percent in the territory's hospitals, while admissions were down 20 percent, the ICRC said.

It blamed a "standstill in cooperation" between Palestinian authorities in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction holds sway, and Hamas for imports of medical supplies having slowed to a "trickle."

The ICRC also urged Israel, which tightened a blockade of the territory after Hamas seized control from Fatah in June 2007, to facilitate timely deliveries of medical supplies and equipment.   Continued...