New offensive exacerbating fragile humanitarian and public health situation

In the days following the launch of operation “Pillar of Defence”, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) donated medicines and other materials reported to be in short supply to Gaza’s central pharmacy. The materials include anaesthetics, surgical medicines and medical kits to treat the wounded. More donations will be made to ease supply shortages.

MSF’s inflatable hospital could be converted to a triage centre to prioritise patient needs and an operating theatre for minor surgery. The hospital was set up in 2011 within Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip and until now has been used for MSF specialised surgery programmes.

Forty Palestinian staff are working for MSF in the Gaza Strip. Two nurses and two physiotherapists are working at the MSF dispensary in Gazatown. However, only five patients have been able to get to the dispensary for treatment over the past six days because of insecurity. MSF is planning to increase the dispensary’s capacity so that it can care for patients discharged from hospitals.

MSF is evaluating the situation in the hospitals of the Gaza Strip in order to determine what support is needed. Given that Gaza’s surgical teams are experienced in war and emergency surgery, MSF is more likely to support intensive and post-operative care.

“This new offensive is making an already very fragile humanitarian and public health situation much worse. MSF has repeatedly denounced the politicisation of the Palestinian health system and the impact of the double conflict – between Israeli and Palestinian and between Palestinian groups – since 2006. The population is suffering from years of conflict, a lack of access to certain healthcare services and shortages of medicines and other medical supplies,” noted Virginie Mathieu, MSF head of mission for the Occupied Palestinian Territory

MSF has been working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1989 and in the Gaza Strip since 2000.* In July 2010, MSF signed an agreement with the public health authorities in Gaza and opened a reconstructive surgery programme. Several times a year, MSF teams of surgeons, operating theatre nurses and anaesthetists carry out specialist surgical programmes. These teams work in close collaboration with surgeons and other staff from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip.