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Gaza Medical Shortages May Lead to Surge of Deaths

Published: Fri 2 Jan 2009 03:00 PM
Medical Shortages in Gaza May Lead to Surge of Deaths Among Wounded, UN Warns
New York, Dec 30 2008 12:10PM
Warning that hundreds of wounded people in Gaza hospitals face a surge in preventable deaths due to the lack of medical supplies, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has called for an immediate end to hostilities and urged Israel to ensure immediate provision of fuel and critical life-saving and trauma care supplies.
“Hundreds of wounded people, including women, children and elderly, lie in hospitals that already lack basic supplies,” WHO said of Israel’s air strikes against Hamas, in which over 300 have been killed and many hundreds more wounded.
“The inability of the hospitals to cope with a problem of this magnitude, if the situation continues unchanged, will result in a surge in preventable deaths from complications due to trauma. Civilians are paying the price for the prolonged blockade,” it added, referring to the closure of crossing points which Israel has imposed, citing rocket attacks by Gaza militants.
“As a top priority, the shortages of essential and life-saving medicines need to be abated without delay. The current escalation of the violence only compounds the health situation and unnecessarily exacerbates the fragile status of the civilians caught up in this conflict.”
WHO has secured, in collaboration with several Member States, the dispatch of medical kits to cover surgical and trauma interventions and is following up with Palestinian and Israeli authorities to ensure these supplies reach those who need them.
Negotiations with the Israelis are ongoing to guarantee the passage of urgent medical supplies, the agency said, adding that it was also coordinating with other UN agencies, donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure aid arrives to those most in need.
“The functioning of hospitals and access to health services is critical in order to respond to the mass casualties,” WHO stressed, calling for the removal of blockades to allow in much-needed food, water, fuel, medicines and other humanitarian aid.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) voiced deep concern over the impact of the current violence on youngsters and urged all parties to abide by their international legal obligation to ensure that children are protected and receive essential humanitarian supplies and support. Over half of the population in Gaza are children.
“It is critical that humanitarian assistance, including food, medical supplies and equipment be allowed into Gaza to address the urgent needs of children and women,” UNICEF said in statement.
ENDS

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