NewsWHO Official Warns of Healthcare Collapse in Gaza

WHO Official Warns of Healthcare Collapse in Gaza

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A senior official from the World Health Organization (WHO) who recently returned from the Gaza Strip has sounded an alarm, asserting that the healthcare system in the region is on the verge of collapse. WHO Health Emergency Officer, Sean Casey, addressed reporters at the United Nations, describing the dire situation he witnessed during his five-week stay in Gaza, beginning in early December.

“I’ve seen the healthcare system collapsing before my eyes,” Casey stated, emphasizing the urgent need for additional workers and supplies. During his visit, he interacted with medical professionals and patients across the territory, revealing the severe conditions faced by individuals seeking medical attention.

Patients in hospitals, according to Casey, are enduring prolonged waits for care, often requesting basic necessities such as food and water. He stressed the necessity of a ceasefire while highlighting the importance of safely and swiftly moving people and aid supplies within Gaza to alleviate the ongoing suffering.

Reports indicate that the healthcare system in Gaza was robust before Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7. The WHO now reports that approximately 15 hospitals are only partially operational, significantly hindering access to care for over 50,000 injured individuals.

Casey pointed out the dual challenges of a shortage of supplies and healthcare workers. Many professionals are displaced and grappling with survival issues for their families. Despite the difficulties, Casey acknowledged the courage of health workers in Gaza who persist in caring for patients amid the crisis.

During his visit, Casey assessed the feasibility of bringing in more international medical teams, particularly to address the challenging situation in northern Gaza. He noted the difficulty in providing supplies to major hospitals, such as al-Shifa, for extended periods, exacerbating the already critical healthcare situation.

Israel has accused Hamas of stealing aid supplies, but Casey, based on his hospital visits, stated, “I have no evidence of supplies that have been delivered to hospitals going anywhere except to those hospitals.”

Dr. Seema Jilani, an emergency health expert with the International Rescue Committee, echoed Casey’s concerns. Having recently returned from a two-week visit to Gaza, she described it as the most extreme situation she has witnessed in terms of scale, severity of injuries, and the number of children affected. Jilani worked at Al-Aksa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, treating children with severe injuries, including amputations and burns.

Highlighting the precarious state of healthcare facilities, Jilani expressed uncertainty about the fate of the babies she treated after the hospital ran out of fuel and lost power. The situation in Gaza, as reported by healthcare professionals, underscores the urgent need for international aid and concerted efforts towards a ceasefire.

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