Patients in Gaza are facing another war on top of the Israeli one, as young woman Afnan Haboub, a resident of the Daraj neighborhood of Gaza City, is forced to face death twice a week when her mother, Samira, she is transferred to dialysis. ward of Al-Shifa hospital, traveling to and from under continuous bombing, and the number of patients doubles. Her suffering in the hospital, which is stretched beyond its capacity to treat and rescue the wounded.
After public transport offices were closed and ambulances were no longer able to meet the needs of ordinary patients, Haboob drives one of her relatives’ car to the hospital and explains how she and her mother spend the trip reciting the Shahada, while the level of anxiety increases with every raid, explosion and sound.
Haboob’s suffering, along with that of thousands of other patients in Gaza, has worsened after the cessation of many medical services in general, in hospitals, dispensaries and clinics, with the unprecedented concern of treating those wounded by Israeli bombing, a situation that has pushed the Gaza Ministry of Health to allow any staff member with a degree in medicine or nursing to work and provide care even without having practiced the profession.
Vehicles for transporting renal patients
Until recently, the Gaza Ministry of Health, with the support of Arab and international institutions, often provided vehicles to transport kidney patients to dialysis hospitals, twice a week for each patient, but now all this has stopped, forcing patients and families to look for other difficult alternatives, with the almost total absence of public transport.
Haboob told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We must go early and return before dark. It is a complex suffering, a tiring journey through a minefield. Every time we say goodbye to the family as if we would never return. But we can’t do without it, because it’s not possible for us not to go either. “Our mere arrival at Al-Shifa Hospital feels as if a new life has been written for us, and our return home is the beginning of another new life.”
But the suffering of kidney patients does not stop when they arrive at the hospital, because here everyone is busy transporting and treating the injured, a situation that complicates access to a nurse and makes it extremely long. Haboub said: “We don’t find them and we struggle to find them, and if we find them we are ashamed of them and the wounded.” Gaza’s hospitals suffer from occupancy above 150% of their capacity and a serious shortage of medical personnel, exhausted by the Israeli war.
Clinics are transformed into shelters
Pill is one of the thousands of patients who need treatment, and if she finds it with all these difficulties, the others can’t find it.
In the first days of the war, displaced Mervat Al-Hajj, a resident of Jabalia camp in the northern Gaza Strip, received medications for diabetes and blood pressure from UNRWA teams who arrived at the homes of the elderly with the aim of of providing them with care, but then the clinics were closed and some of them were transformed into shelters for displaced people. She started looking for medicines everywhere, in any open pharmacy, in any pharmacist, in any doctor, in any neighbor.
After Al-Hajj (57 years old) was forced to flee from Jabalia in the north of the Gaza Strip to Nuseirat in the center of the Strip, she was forced to purchase some alternative medicines, but the medicines are not always available and the their price is low. also not always available. Al-Hajj told Asharq Al-Awsat: “UNRWA does not always have medicines. Diabetes and blood pressure are always present (high values), sometimes I take the medicine one day and another day I don’t.”
While UNRWA claims that its crews suffer from difficult conditions and are unable to provide for all the needs of refugees in the Gaza Strip, particularly those displaced in refugee schools, the Hamas government’s government press office accuses the United Nations organization of shirking its various responsibilities and closing health services. clinics he supervises. .
Painkillers instead of a doctor
Asharq Al-Awsat has monitored many patients who resort to painkillers in cases requiring a visit to the doctor, but this has become something of a luxury in Gaza. Citizens said that amidst all this death, they no longer worry about their ordinary illnesses, such as infections, fever, flu and asthma, and will not risk going to crowded hospitals. But dialysis patients, cancer patients and other seriously ill patients cannot wait.
The Ministry of Health announced that the Turkish Friendship Hospital, the only hospital for cancer patients in the Gaza Strip, was damaged after being targeted by the Israeli army. Dr. Sobhi Skaik, director general of the hospital, said on Facebook: “A state of panic has gripped cancer patients and medical staff following the demolition of Turkey’s only Friendship Hospital for cancer patients in the Strip. Gaza and the infliction of serious damage to it, due to the fact that its surroundings have been repeatedly targeted.”
He added: “The occupation has not only increased the suffering and pain of cancer and deprived them of medicines and travel for treatment abroad, but has now endangered their lives by targeting the surroundings of ‘hospital”.
Prior to this, Israel had bombed the Baptist hospital in Gaza, killing 500 people, and had also bombed nearby other hospitals, requiring their complete evacuation.
Health Minister Mai Kayla said hospitals could not be evacuated, as they were filled with the sick and injured, as well as thousands of displaced people who had found safe refuge in hospital courtyards. In addition to treating thousands of injured people, kidney diseases and tumors, there are departments that cannot close their doors. Like the maternity and pediatric wards and the intensive care rooms.
The Public Relations Department of Gaza’s Health Ministry said that hundreds of cases, some of which were incurable, had been treated since the start of the war. Ashraf Al-Qudra, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that hospitals still able to operate are providing necessary and urgent services to patients despite facing thousands of injuries every day and despite acute conditions and severe shortages in the availability of medical supplies.
He added: “There are hundreds of patients at risk of death, including dialysis patients, newborns and those on care wards. We cannot stop and we cannot evacuate the hospitals.” Hospitals in the Gaza Strip have started monitoring outbreak cases in primary care centers, due to the lack of water and healthy food and the destruction of health and medical infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.