WHO steps up emergency response in the Gaza Strip, June 2017

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released over US$ 360 000 from its internal emergency funds to scale up its response and prevent the further deterioration and collapse of the health sector in Gaza. Following the shut-down of the Gaza Power Plant, Gaza’s 14 public hospitals and 16 health facilities face partial or complete closure of essential services. The situation is immediately life threatening for all those in need for hospital services out of the 2 million populations. Coupled with this, the shortages of essential and often life-saving medicines and disposables are deteriorating the health status of the population.

According to the Ministry of Health, a number of coping mechanisms have already been adopted to conserve electricity, such as limiting sterilization services, postposing elective surgery and prematurely discharging patient. But without fuel, 40 surgical operation theatres, 11 obstetric theatres, 5 haemodialysis centres and emergency departments will be forced to close critical services. The situation will be immediately life-threatening for 113 new-borns in neonatal intensive care units, 100 patients in intensive care and 658 patients requiring haemodialysis. Refrigeration for blood and vaccine storage will also be at risk.

However, a chronic lack of funding for the oPt is impeding action by WHO and health partners to effectively respond to increasing humanitarian needs.

These new funds, provided by WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies will allow WHO to rapidly scale-up priority response activity to effectively monitor and respond to the health needs by:

  • Supplying fuel to critical services in hospitals, preventing the closure of surgical operation theatres, intensive care units, haemodialysis units and neonatal intensive care units
  • Increasing the supply of life saving drugs to reduce avoidable mortality
  • Training field workers on the monitoring of key health indicators for hospitals and primary healthcare clinics across all five governorates in Gaza
  • Enhancing the emergency preparedness and contingency plans for the Health Cluster and training over 50 health partners on emergency response

More than 65 000 people are still internally displaced in Gaza since the war in 2014. Access to clean water is becoming increasingly sporadic and the inability to treat raw sewage due to the electricity shortages, may lead to a wide spread public health hazard.

The situation requires a sustained response, without which the health sector is put under strain to effectively prevent, treat and respond to the health needs of the population. The lives of over 870 patients in critical care units are at risk and almost 4000 patients attending emergency rooms daily would be affected. Deterioration in the health sector in Gaza also means an increased reliance on medical referrals out of Gaza, for which the application process for patients for security permits from Israel can be stressful and often unpredictable.

In response to the current situation, WHO has issued a donor appeal for US$ 4.5 million.

You can access WHO’s ERF appeal from here

For further information contact:
Sara Halimah
Health Cluster, WHO