Hospitals in Gaza Strip at breaking point, warns WHO

Smoke billows and debris flies in the air as the night falls on Gaza City during Israeli airstrikes. Picture: AFP

Smoke billows and debris flies in the air as the night falls on Gaza City during Israeli airstrikes. Picture: AFP

Published Oct 13, 2023


The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the health system in the Gaza Strip is at a breaking point.

A release issued by the WHO said that time is running out to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe if fuel and life-saving health and humanitarian supplies cannot be urgently delivered to the Gaza Strip.

"Hospitals have only a few hours of electricity each day as they are forced to ration depleting fuel reserves and rely on generators to sustain the most critical functions. Even these functions will have to cease in a few days, when fuel stocks are due to run out," the release added.

The impact, it said, would be devastating for the most vulnerable patients, including the injured who need lifesaving surgery, patients in intensive care units, and newborns depending on care in incubators.

As the war between Israel and Hamas entered Day 7, acute shortages of medical supplies are compounding the crisis, limiting the response capacity of hospitals.

"The situation has also gravely disrupted the delivery of essential health services, including obstetric care, management of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and heart diseases, and treatment of common infections, as all health facilities are forced to prioritize lifesaving emergency care," it said.

Access for emergency medical teams in the field is severely hampered by infrastructure damage.

WHO said it has documented 34 attacks on healthcare in Gaza since last Saturday that have resulted in the death of 11 health workers on duty, 16 injuries, and damages to 19 health facilities and 20 ambulances.

"Without the immediate entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza - especially health services, medical supplies, food, clean water, fuel, and non-food items - humanitarian and health partners will be unable to respond to urgent needs of people who desperately need it. Each lost hour puts more lives at risk," it said.

Against this backdrop, WHO called for an end to hostilities and the protection of healthcare and civilians against attacks.

Also, it called for the immediate opening of a humanitarian corridor to ensure unimpeded access to health and humanitarian supplies.

"WHO is ready to immediately dispatch trauma and essential health supplies through its logistics hub in Dubai and working with partners to ensure that they can reach the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing.

“Urgent access through the crossing is essential so that WHO and other humanitarian agencies can act quickly to help save lives," WHO concluded.