JERUSALEM, August 23, 2014 – The World Health Organization stated in a report issued Thursday that the temporary ceasefires during the previous week had allowed improvement in the humanitarian situation.
The WHO Ninth Situation Report on Gaza highlighted the fact that that affects of sporadic ceasefires on daily conditions and health access in Gaza and the UN agencies preliminary assessment process for needs and recovery plans. The report also presented health Ministry’s statistics (as of 19:00 August 20) demonstrating that 2,047 Palestinians were killed, including 553 children, 253 females (aged 18-60) and 96 elderly, and that 10,224 Palestinians injured, including 3,106 children, 1,970 females (aged 18-60) and 368 elderly.
According to the report, 1.8 million people have been affected by the ongoing Israeli aggression on the strip, over 290,000 people have been displaced, 1.2 million are refugees who were forced out of their homes in 1948, 10,224 people have been injured and the death toll reached 2,047.
“Prior to the renewed violence, the temporary ceasefires during the past week had allowed some improvement in the humanitarian situation, most importantly by increasing personal safety and security, but also by allowing for movement for families to resupply with essentials, return to damaged homes, recover household possessions and access health services. Two hospitals that had closed due to extensive damage reopened on an emergency basis and received patients using alternative facilities. The assessment process of damage and needs in each sector began to be carried out by UN agencies, ministries, local governments and organizations,” said the report.
Regarding primary health care, WHO showed that analysis of 13 communicable diseases notifications from UNRWA clinics showed an increase in cases of diarrhea (bloody, watery <5 years, watery >5 years), but not yet at the level of outbreak and that cases of viral meningitis have increased, but not to the levels of public health concern. The protective factors in outbreak prevention included effective vaccination coverage in Gaza and improved health and hygiene behavior.
Regarding health facilities damage and closures, WHO stated that 15 out of 32 hospitals have been damaged since July 7 and 6 remained closed. One of the closed hospitals, al Wafa Hospital, which had been totally destroyed, opened a nearby facility to treat patients. Beit Hanoun Hospital, which was extremely damaged, opened to accept emergency patients since it is the only MoH hospital serving the northern sector.
It added that out of 97 clinics being monitored for damage and closures, 45 reported damage and 17 are closed.
Regarding referrals, WHO stated that referrals for casualties continue to be coordinated by the Ministry of Health with receiving hospitals and sponsoring governments, especially Turkey and Germany, and for access with Egyptian authorities at Rafah and with Israeli authorities at Erez checkpoint and that out of the 185 casualty cases coordinated for travel through Erez checkpoint to the West Bank and East Jerusalem hospitals, four patients were denied permits.
“In a preliminary analysis of 167 referrals, 70% were males and 30% females and 29% were children aged 0 to 17 years. Most of the injuries were due to multiple trauma and crush injuries involving complex vascular, neurological and bone damage, and required specialized care to reduce the risk of complications such as renal failure, amputations, infected wounds and permanent nerve damage and disability.”