Gaza crisis: another hospital facing dire shortages, warns WHO
09 January 2024
On day 93 of the war in Gaza, amid heavy Israeli bombardment, UN humanitarians issued reports of “significant casualties, particularly among women and children”
On day 93 of the war in Gaza, amid reports of relentless and heavy Israeli bombardment, UN humanitarians issued new reports of “significant casualties, particularly among women and children” and pleaded for overwhelmed medical teams to be allowed to continue their lifesaving work.
In central Gaza, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Sunday that medics at the only functioning hospital in Deir al Balah governorate “had been forced to cease lifesaving and other critical activities…and leave” after an evacuation order issued amid “increasing” Israeli military activity.
Only five doctors reportedly remain at Al-Aqsa Hospital in the Middle Area of Gaza, where a WHO team delivered medical supplies to support 4,500 dialysis patients for three months and 500 patients requiring trauma care.
Patients treated on the floor
From Al-Aqsa, WHO Health Emergency Officer Sean Casey posted a video on X social media platform on Sunday evening showing chaotic scenes as medics treated patients on the blood-streaked floor, some of the “hundreds” being brought in for urgent treatment.
“They are seeing in some cases hundreds of casualties every day in a small emergency department,” Mr. Casey said. “So, they’re treating children on the floor.”
Echoing those concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a post on X reported “immense needs” at the hospital, “especially health workers, medical supplies and beds. But staff said their greatest need was for their hospital, and its staff, patients and families there, to be protected from strikes and hostilities.”
More than 600 patients “and most health workers” had reportedly been forced to leave the facility, Tedros said, adding that it was “inconceivable” that the protection of health care could not be counted on.
According to the UN health agency, no hospitals are “fully functioning” in northern Gaza. Another WHO mission had to be cancelled to the north on Sunday, Tedros said, “due to dangers and lack of necessary permissions”. Elsewhere in Gaza, “a mere handful of health facilities operate”, the WHO chief said.
In recent days casualty numbers have “increased markedly”, Tedros continued, with “over 120 trauma cases and dozens of dead arriving per day due to increased shelling, gunshot wounds, crush injuries from collapsed buildings, and other war-related trauma”.
WHO is also involved in plans to deploy an emergency medical team to support medical teams at Al-Aqsa. “This will only be possible in a secure environment,” the UN health agency’s Director-General noted.