MSF adapting to worsening conditions in Gaza Strip
5 January 2009
More than a week after the first air strikes on Gaza Strip and following the beginning of the land incursion of Israeli forces, surgical services are overwhelmed and in need of surgeons specialised in vascular surgery in order to deal with the number of wounded. In Gaza city, the intensive care unit of Shifa referral hospital has reached the limits of its capacity. The insecurity is preventing patients needing post operative follow up and health personnel from reaching health structures. Three MSF expatriate volunteers - a field coordinator, doctor and nurse) arrived in Gaza Strip on Wednesday, December 31, to reinforce the local teams composed of 35 health personnel. The intensity of the bombing has not allowed MSF to continue with post-operative care in the MSF clinic in Khan Younis in the south. This clinic has been closed since the beginning of the air raids and is now no longer accessible from the north as the Gaza Strip has been cut in two. In Beit Lahia, the insecurity has repeatedly forced our teams to interrupt the paediatric activities despite several attempts to provide consultations and relieve the work load of doctors in Kamel Edwan hospital. Since the land incursion in the early hours of January 4, the intense violence has lead MSF to give up its intervention in this northern part of Gaza strip. Finally, in Gaza city hardly any patients have been able to go to the MSF clinic where our teams continue providing post operative and medical follow up for wounded who are referred from Shifa Hospital. MSF is adapting its activities to reach people in need of medical help who are unable to leave their homes due to the insecurity. Local MSF doctors, nurses and physiotherapists have taken medical supplies to their own neighbourhoods and are providing care and distributing medical material to meet the immediate needs of patients living in their vicinity. In response to a request from Shifa referral hospital, MSF is attempting to send a surgical team into Gaza Strip. MSF is also trying to send a mobile hospital unit with an operating theatre and an intensive care unit, and medical material for treating the wounded and supplying hospitals, in order to help them deal with the numerous emergencies they are facing in Gaza Strip. MSF in Gaza strip Since July 2007, MSF has been providing post-operative care and physiotherapy to hundreds of people wounded by fighting in the Gaza Strip. In March 2008 a pediatric clinic was opened in Gaza for children under 12 years of age. In Nablus, on the West Bank, as in Gaza, MSF provides psychological, medical and social support to families affected by violence. The team is composed of 11 international volunteers and 108 local staff members. MSF also operates a psychological support program in the West Bank town of Hebron. MSF has been working in Gaza and the West Bank since 1989.