As Gaza’s health system disintegrates, WHO calls for safe passage of fuel, supplies for health facilities

24 October 2023 – WHO remains unable to distribute fuel and essential, life-saving health supplies to major hospitals in northern Gaza due to lack of security guarantees. WHO calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire so health supplies and fuel can be delivered safely throughout the Gaza Strip.

Some of the facilities waiting for WHO supplies and fuel in northern Gaza include Al-Shifa hospital, where bed occupancy is already close to 150%. Last night, the Indonesian Hospital was forced to shut down some critical services due to lack of fuel, and is now running with limited functionality. The Turkish Friendship Hospital, the only oncology hospital in the Gaza Strip, remains partially functional due to lack of fuel, putting around 2000 cancer patients at risk.

In addition to the hospitals that have had to close due to damage and attacks, six hospitals across the Gaza Strip have already shut down due to lack of fuel. Unless vital fuel and additional health supplies are urgently delivered into Gaza, thousands of vulnerable patients risk death or medical complications as critical services shut down due to lack of power. These include 1000 patients dependent on dialysis, 130 premature babies who need a range of care, and patients in intensive care or requiring surgery who depend on a stable and uninterrupted supply of electricity to stay alive.

Yesterday, WHO, with support from UNRWA, delivered 34,000 liters of fuel to four major hospitals in southern Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent Society to sustain its ambulance services. However, this is only enough to keep ambulances and critical hospital functions running for a little over 24 hours.

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Some of WHO’s medicines and health supplies have already been delivered to four key hospitals in southern Gaza, as well as to the Palestine Red Crescent Society for distribution to two of its health facilities and ambulance crews. WHO teams delivering the supplies say health staff were so relieved to have replenishments, they took boxes of supplies off the trucks and straight into operating theatres, where doctors have been performing surgeries without anesthesia or other basic surgical supplies.

For people in the Gaza Strip, the situation is desperate. It will become catastrophic without the safe and continuous passage of fuel and health supplies, and additional humanitarian assistance. WHO reiterates its calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire for the safe delivery of health supplies and fuel throughout the Gaza Strip.

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