Caritas remains concerned about health crisis in Palestine

By staff writers
January 4, 2007

As tension and violence continues to escalate in Gaza, Caritas Jerusalem, the Catholic aid agency, continues to be alarmed at the ongoing deterioration of the health situation in the Palestinian Territories - and involved in practical work to redress the situation.

Hospitals have been especially hard hit and those with chronic health problems have been negatively affected, it says.

One recent Caritas intervention took place at the Dialysis Unit at the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, a 600 bed facility with some 1,400 staff members. It has been particularly hard hit in the recent situation due to the closure of Gaza, the disruption in electrical services and the inability of the Palestinian governmental sector to meet its financial obligations.

Diabetics are one group that has suffered dramatically of late in Gaza. Under normal circumstances, they have to go to the hospital at least three times per week to undertake dialysis treatment. This treatment requires them to utilize the services provided by a dialysis machine. Unfortunately, these machines are sensitive medical devices that require regular monitoring and schedule maintenance service.

Due to the situation in Gaza, many vital medical devices have not been functioning because of a lack of regular maintenance. This is what took place at the Dialysis Unit in the Al Shifa Hospital.

"The Dialysis department in the hospital was almost totally paralyzed," said Jameel Khoury, Caritas Jerusalem's Health Department Manager.

He continued, "There were eight dialysis machines that were out of order in the department. This directly affected 370 people who were not able to have their vitally needed regular dialysis treatment. Due to the inability of the Palestinian Ministry of Health to respond to this urgent need, Caritas Jerusalem stepped in to address this important health gap."

Through its recent Special Operations Appeal programme, Caritas has helped the Al Shifa Hospital by repairing these machines. Now the 370 diabetics have access to a life-saving treatment they would otherwise have been denied.

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