Medicines desperately needed in Gaza

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza has run out of many medicines. 

Ali Hamad APA images

Dr. Khalid Abu Habel has a 75-year-old patient with Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Two of the most important medicines that she needs are completely unavailable.

“At the same time, malnutrition and infections are taking their toll on her health,” Abu Habel said.

“People with chronic diseases are suffering more than anyone in this war,” he added.

According to Abu Habel, there is an acute risk his patient and others will die because of the situation.

He points to how a newborn baby died recently at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, where Abu Habel works.

If the hospital was better resourced and not working under such enormous strain, it should have been possible to save the baby.

Abu Habel is extremely worried about the scarcity of antibiotics and other basic requirements for any hospital. With hunger on the rise, the hospital does not have vitamins and food supplements that are vital in treating malnutrition.

“The lack of medicines means more complications,” Abu Habel said. “And more complications mean more deaths.”

“It’s horrific that we are unable to provide help,” he added. “Unless medical supplies are allowed into the Strip, we may see one of the worst health crises ever.”

Prices have skyrocketed of the few medicines that can still be found.

A strip of paracetamol that would have cost 3 cents before the war now sells for approximately $3.

Desperate need

Hazem al-Qernawi is a pharmacist in Deir al-Balah. His store has barely any stocks.

“Pharmacies in Gaza are in desperate need of medicines,” he said. “We need to treat people with chronic diseases. They constantly feel unwell living in such terrible circumstances without proper medicine.”

“It’s the same for painkillers,” he added. “The lack of painkillers impedes the work of doctors, who are treating people with injuries.”

The number of people living in Deir al-Balah has increased massively due to evacuations from northern Gaza, including Gaza City.

The dreadful living conditions have led to an upsurge in infections, many contagious.

“It’s not logical to isolate people [with the aim of preventing a disease from spreading], when more than half a million are taking shelter in Deir al-Balah,” al-Qernawi said. “This pushes us to demand more medicines. It is the only solution.”

If the war continues, it will “result in a sharp rise in amputations and deaths,” he added.

“This scene has been played out repeatedly in recent weeks. This is what Israel has done to us.”

Abubaker Abed is a journalist and translator from Deir al-Balah refugee camp in Gaza.