By Global News Service
“Even if peace was declared, we have a massive public health challenge ahead of us,” said Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme, speaking at a press conference on November 29. His warning came shortly before a short truce ended with another series of Israel’s attacks on December 1.
The devastation of the health system in Palestine, particularly in the Gaza Strip, is leading to growing concerns about the spread of infectious diseases. Considering the severe overcrowding in which approximately 1.8 million displaced people in Gaza are currently living, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, warned that “the risks are increasing for epidemics of respiratory tract infections, acute watery diarrhea, hepatitis, scabies, lice, and other diseases.”
The WHO recorded 75,000 cases of diarrhea and 111,000 cases of respiratory infections that prevent normal breathing function among the population in Gaza. Even though the UN health agency delivered 121 pallets of medical supplies into the Strip in the first three days of the truce, the materials delivered are enough to care for 90,000 people. This leaves tens of thousands without adequate care.
Only 15 of the 36 hospitals in Gaza are still functioning and are “overwhelmed,” warned the WHO on November 29. Health workers who were forced to leave their workplaces at gunpoint days before the truce kicked in remain imprisoned or disappeared, signaling that attacks against healthcare in Palestine will continue as bombardments and shelling resume.