WHO says disease may kill more people in Gaza than bombs during Israeli siege Israel-Palestine conflict news

The World Health Organization says the damaged healthcare and sanitation systems in Gaza must be restored.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that if the medical and health systems in Gaza are not repaired, more people may die from the disease than from the explosion.

Since Israel launched its attack on Gaza on October 7, critical infrastructure in the besieged area has been crippled by fuel and supply shortages and targeted attacks on hospitals and United Nations facilities.

“If we fail to rebuild health systems, we will end up seeing more people die from disease than from bombing,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday. “

She described the collapse of Shifa hospital in northern Gaza as a “tragedy” and expressed concern about the detention of some of its medical staff by Israeli forces who seized the hospital earlier this month.

She also reiterated concerns about increasing outbreaks of infectious diseases in Gaza, particularly diarrheal diseases.

“There are no medicines, no vaccination campaigns, no access to safe water and sanitation, and no food,” she said, citing a United Nations report on the living conditions of displaced residents in northern Gaza.

A Palestinian walks through the grounds of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City
Shifa hospital in ruins after Israeli attack (File: Mohammed Hajjar/AP)

‘Risk of major outbreak’

All major health services in Gaza have ceased operations, increasing the likelihood of high levels of gastrointestinal illnesses and infectious diseases, including cholera, among the local population.

For Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, half of whom are children, finding drinking water is nearly impossible.

The World Health Organization has recorded more than 44,000 cases of diarrhea and 70,000 cases of acute respiratory infections, but the actual numbers are likely much higher.

The U.N. health agency said it was very concerned that the coming winter rains and flooding would make an already dire situation worse.

James Elder, a spokesman for the United Nations children’s agency in Gaza, told reporters via video link that hospitals were overwhelmed with children suffering from battle injuries and gastroenteritis from drinking dirty water. “Their lack of access to safe water is crippling them,” he said.

If nothing changes, “more and more people will get sick and the risk of a major outbreak will increase dramatically,” Richard Brennan, WHO’s regional emergencies director for the Eastern Mediterranean, told Al Jazeera earlier this month TV station.

Reality is not enough

Despite the two-day extension of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, which was due to expire on Tuesday morning, the Hamas-run health ministry said fuel for generators had not yet arrived at hospitals in the territory’s north.

U.N. official Thor Winnisland warned that the humanitarian situation “remains catastrophic.”

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said that “more aid and supplies need to be urgently provided in a smooth, predictable and sustained manner to alleviate the unbearable suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza.”

Gaza Mayor Yahya al-Siraj said that without fuel, the region would not be able to pump clean water or remove accumulated waste from the streets, warning that it could create a public health “catastrophe.” “.

Cleanup operations are underway at Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital. “We hope it can resume its activities as soon as possible,” Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Mahmoud Hamad said.

Israeli bombing has killed more than 14,800 Palestinians, including 6,150 children and more than 4,000 women, according to the enclave’s health authorities.

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