Recent information directly related to health in Gaza
January 4th 2009
According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza as reported by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on January 4th evening, 491 people have been killed and approximately 2,400 persons have been injured during the military operations of the last 9 days. At least 20% of the fatalities and 40% of the injuries are women and children. As of January 3rd Magen David Adom reported 46 injuries (5 moderate, 4 severe) and 4 fatalities over the past week on the Israeli side.
Gaza has 700-1000 chronic medical patients who had been receiving ongoing treatment in Israel and East Jerusalem each month. There are presently no referrals through the Erez checkpoint (or any other since the land invasion).
(Reasons for being unable to transfer people have been the subject of complex debate but in the present land offensive no-one can move anyway).
There is presently (evening Jan 4th) almost total blackout in the governorates of Gaza, North Gaza, Middle Area, Khan Yunis. Prior to this hospitals had already been operating on backup generators for their electricity during blackouts. At Shifa hospital there are 70 patients in intensive care and 30 in neonatal care who would be affected catastrophically if the generators fail.
Even before the recent escalation industrial fuel was needed for Gaza Power Plant and ten transformers needed replacing to restore electricity to 250,000 people in central and northern Gaza. This effects water, sanitation, and hospitals including intensive care and operating rooms.
An ambulance from AlAwda hospital was shelled on the morning of January 4th seriously injuring 4 medical staff.
On 21 December OCHA reported that approximately 20% of Gaza’s ambulances are grounded due to the dearth of spare parts.
Nutrition: the food the UN World Food Programme was trying to distribute prior to the land invasion should have been distributed in the October –December cycle.
Water and sanitation: on January 2nd airstrikes in the Al Mughraga area damaged a main drinking water pipe cutting the water supply of 30,000 people in Nuseirat Camp. There is growing concern that current military operations could damage the sand walls of the Beit Lahiya sewage lagoon causing a sewage overflow putting 15,000 people and agricultural areas at risk.
Warning leaflets dropped to warn people to evacuate are reported as causing confusion and panic among the civilian population (OCHA Gaza Humanitarian Situation Report 3 January 2009). Gaza has a population of 1.5 million people in an area 25 miles long and 3-7 miles wide.