[Press TV News] UN, WHO, Relief Agencies Call For Immediate Lifting of Gaza Siege
UN Humanitarian Coordinator and Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA): "The closure of the Gaza Strip puts at risk the health of people in Gaza and undermines the functioning of the health care system."
Source: Association of International Development Agencies; Office of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory
Date: 20 Jan 2010
Today, one year after Israel's military offensive on Gaza, UN Agencies and the Association for International Development Agencies (AIDA), representing over 80 NGOs, are highlighting the impact of the blockade on Gaza on the health of Gaza's population and on health services - and are calling for an immediate opening of Gaza's crossings.
Max Gaylard, the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, said on Wednesday 20th January 2010 "The continuing closure of the Gaza Strip is undermining the functioning of the health care system and putting at risk the health of 1.4 million people in Gaza. It is causing on-going deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. It is hampering the provision of medical supplies and the training of health staff and it is preventing patients with serious medical conditions getting timely specialised treatment outside Gaza"
The economy of Gaza is in virtual collapse with rising unemployment and poverty which will have long term adverse effects on the physical and mental health of the population. The environment is also in decline including water quality, sewage and waste disposal and other environmental hazards (including munitions and medical waste) which may lead to long term effects on health.
More than 750,000 children live in Gaza. The humanitarian community is gravely concerned about the future of this generation whose health needs are not being met. The decline in infant mortality, which has occurred steadily over recent decades, has stalled in the last few years.
The lack of building materials as a result of the blockade is affecting essential health facilities: the new surgical wing in Gaza's main Shifa hospital has remained unfinished since 2006. Hospitals and primary care facilities, damaged during operation 'Cast Lead', have not been rebuilt because construction materials are not allowed into Gaza. Operation 'Cast Lead' damaged 15 of Gaza's 27 hospitals and 43 of its 110 primary health care facilities were either damaged or destroyed.
Supplies of drugs and disposables have generally been allowed into Gaza – though there are often shortages on the ground. However, certain types of medical equipment, such as x-ray equipment and electronic devices are very difficult to bring in. Clinical staff frequently lack the medical equipment they need. Medical devices are often broken, missing spare parts or out of date.
Health professionals in Gaza have been cut off from the outside world. Since 2000, very few doctors, nurses or technicians have been able to leave the Strip for training necessary to update their clinical skills or to learn about new medical technology. This is severely undermining their ability to provide quality health care.
Many specialised treatments, for example, complex heart surgery and certain types of cancer, are not available in Gaza and patients are therefore referred for treatment to hospitals outside Gaza. But many patients have had the applications for exit permits denied or delayed by the Israeli Authorities and have missed their appointments. Some have died while waiting for referral.
Tony Laurance, the Head of Office for WHO West Bank and Gaza, said that "An effective health care system cannot be sustained in isolation from the international community. Open borders are needed to ensure the health of the1.4 million people in Gaza"
The humanitarian community believes the health sector would face serious problems in dealing with another emergency on the scale of last year's Operation Cast Lead. The Government of Israel has a legal duty to guarantee the right to health for people in Gaza. The humanitarian community calls for the crossings into Gaza to be reopened.
"Special report on the Medical situation in Gaza a year after the 22 day war on Gaza by the Zionists. They say that the siege is increasing the humanitarian catastrophe of the 22 day imposed war on Gaza and resulting in the death of countless people. Recorded January 20, 2010 2100GMT"
More Related News:
Ongoing Israeli blockade jeopardizing health of over 1 million Gazans, UN warns
20 January 2010 – United Nations agencies and their non-governmental partners today warned of the impact of the Israeli blockade on Gaza’s population and on health services, and repeated their call for an immediate opening of the border crossings.
“The continuing closure of the Gaza Strip is undermining the functioning of the health care system and putting at risk the health of 1.4 million people in Gaza,” Max Gaylard, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a joint statement with the Association of International Development Agencies.
Hospitals and primary care facilities, damaged during the fighting in Gaza one year ago, have not been rebuilt because construction materials are not allowed into the territory owing to the ongoing blockade, which is now in its third year.
Operation ‘Cast Lead’ – the three-week military operation which Israel said it launched in response to rocket and other attacks by militants in Gaza – damaged 15 of Gaza’s 27 hospitals, and 43 of its 110 primary health-care facilities were either damaged or destroyed.
Certain types of medical equipment, such as x-ray equipment and electronic devices, are very difficult to bring in, and health professionals in Gaza have been cut off from the outside world, the statement noted.
The World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that many specialized treatments, such as for complex heart surgery and certain types of cancer, are not available in Gaza and patients are therefore referred for treatment to hospitals outside Gaza.
But many patients have had their applications for exit permits denied or delayed by the Israeli authorities and have missed their appointments, with some having died while waiting for referral.
“The Government of Israel has a legal duty to guarantee the right to health for people in Gaza,” declared today’s statement. “The humanitarian community calls for the crossings into Gaza to be reopened.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a report issued last November, stressed that the blockade of vital supplies has devastated Gaza’s economy and “has also severely impaired the realization of a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights.”
Today’s statement noted that Gaza’s economy is in virtual collapse with rising unemployment and poverty, which will have long-term adverse effects on the physical and mental health of the population.
In a related development, Mr. Ban has appointed Filippo Grandi of Italy as the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), effective today.
Mr. Grandi, who has been the Agency’s Deputy Commissioner General since September 2005, succeeds Karen AbuZayd of the United States.
“The Secretary-General is deeply grateful to Ms. AbuZayd for her tireless and dedicated service to the Palestinian people and excellent leadership of UNRWA at an important juncture,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, told reporters.
Mr. Ban also announced the appointment of Margot B. Ellis as UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner-General. Since July 2008, Ms. Ellis has been Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 4.7 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, including in the areas of education, health care, community support and emergency response in times of armed conflict.
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