How will Gaza’s Health Sector Cope with COVID-19?
April 28, 2020
The Covid-19 Global Pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of health sectors when managing an emergency situation of this capacity. The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is dangerous for those on the frontlines and many doctors have likened the situation to being ‘at war’ or working on a battlefield.
Gaza’s health sector has faced zero stock levels of vital medicines, lack of specialist staff and equipment and even the bombing of health facilities for over a decade. Health services in Gaza have been at breaking point for many years and many of the people of Gaza have suffered and died. The Siege continues to cause suffering and makes the people Gaza more, not less, vulnerable during the Pandemic.
Confirmed cases in Gaza have risen and all those who entered the territory recently are under quarantine. Whilst preventative measures and a lockdown are in place, the efficacy of social distancing is difficult to predicts due to the cramped living conditions and economic deprivation faced by people unable to buy bulk supplies or hygiene supplies.
95% of the water in Gaza in unsafe to drink and harmful to clean with. People often rely on desalinated water from plants and deliveries or expensive bottled water. Even hospitals must find clean water for staff and patients. This makes preventing the spread of Covid-19 difficult and compromises the health of medical staff and patients.
A potential outbreak of COVID-19 means that many will die in Gaza, which has only 87 ventiltors and many of them are currently in use, as are ICU beds.
Gaza’s health sector has had to manage saving lives during mass bombardment and the injuries and deaths caused throughout the Great March of Return protests. There is a need for more trained ICU staff, as well as staff to manage ongoing treatment for patients. Medical staff will be at the frontlines and vulnerable, and they don’t have enough gloves, masks or even regular elecricity to rely on.
Many hospitals run on generators, leaving those on life saving machines more vulnerable and delaying treatment. Due to the siege, many parts and vital equipment are not available and often takes months to arrive via the Israel authorities.
Although people in Gaza have shown great innovation in producing masks and even building new types of ventilators, they need better materials and an end to the siege for this to make a difference. The people of Gaza should not be made to needlessly suffer and should have the same chances to fight this pandemic as everyone else.