Gazan patients' lives threatened by chronic fuel shortage

Asmaa Abu Halima, 28, says she lives in fear of losing her newborn baby, who lies in the intensive care unit

Gazan patients' lives threatened by chronic fuel shortage

World Bulletin/News Desk

Families of patients in the hospitals of the Gaza Strip fear that an ongoing fuel shortage in the coastal territory could put their loved one's health at risk.

Health authorities in Gaza warned of a "genuine disaster" Thursday evening, saying the fuel needed to run power generators in the strip's hospitals would be depleted within 48 hours, threatening operations at hospitals and medical centers.

"If hospital machines stop working, my boy's condition will become critical," Sedkiya Abdou, 26, said of her son, Abdel-Karim, who is lying in a hospital in Gaza City suffering from Meningitis.

"Whenever the power goes out in the hospital, I feel like my heart is about to stop. I can't take it anymore," she added.

Earlier this week, the Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip issued an urgent appeal to the international community to intervene to "rescue Gaza's healthcare situation."

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qodra has said that the Ramallah-based Palestinian government was withholding funds from Gaza's public service agencies, leaving Gazan health officials unable to purchase adequate fuel to run hospital power generators.

Unveiled in June, the new unity government – drawn up in line with an April reconciliation deal between Hamas and rival Palestinian faction Fatah – accuses Hamas, which has governed the strip since 2007, of maintaining a "shadow government" in the coastal enclave.

Far from the dispute between the rival political factions, Asmaa Abu Halima, 28, says she lives in fear of losing her newborn baby, who lies in the intensive care unit of a Gaza City hospital.

"Why are they doing this to us? I underwent several [in vitro fertilization] trials before I finally conceived him – now I might lose him at any minute," Abu Halima lamented.

For his part, Nasser Bolbol, head of Gaza City's Al-Nasr Pediatric Hospital, says that the ongoing fuel shortage is putting the lives of many hospitalized children at risk.

"Most of the children in the intensive care unit are connected to ventilators and monitoring devices around the clock," he said.

"The [fuel] crisis also increases the burden on medical staff," Bolbol said, noting that much medical equipment at local hospitals had broken down due to frequent blackouts.

"We're also suffering an acute shortage of medical supplies. Government stocks of several vital medicines have already run out," he said.

"We often buy certain medicines from private pharmacies at our personal expense due to the lack of funds," he added.

Al-Qodra, the Health Ministry spokesman, told Anadolu Agency that numerous surgical operations in the strip's hospitals had to be postponed due to acute fuel and medicine shortages.

"Gaza's hospitals are suffering shortages of 120 types of medicine and 470 types of medical equipment, which has prevented a third of the patients suffering from chronic ailments from receiving necessary treatment," he said.

"Hundreds of patients' lives will be in grave danger in the event that Gaza's health sector completely runs out of fuel," he warned.

Home to some 1.9 million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip – blockaded by Israel since 2006 – continues to reel from a recent Israeli military onslaught that left over 2,160 Gazans dead and 11,000 injured in July and August.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Ekim 2014, 23:47

Muhammed Öylek

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