Doctors Without Borders Struggle To Save Lives in Gaza

MSF staff prepare a medical supplies donation for the ministry of health in Gaza after Israeli strikes on October 8, 2023

by Imtiaz Popat

Hospitals in Gaza have been relying on generators since Israel cut off the electrical supply as part of the total siege. But generators run on fuel, and fuel reserves are nearly depleted, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). When backup generators shut down, it will be fatal for thousands of patients whose survival depends on electricity.

At Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières -supported Al Shifa Hospital, colleagues have reported a shortage of painkillers. Surgeons are operating on patients without sufficient anesthesia.

“We delivered medical supplies to Al Shifa hospital,” says MSF nurse Loay Harb, who is sheltering with his family at their home in Gaza City. “The movement to the hospital was very tough, we saw hundreds of people taking shelter inside the hospital and it was difficult to walk inside… There are some patients who need surgeries, and they are laying on the ground due to the high number of people in the hospital.”

On Oct. 29, MSF sent 26 tonnes of medical supplies on a World Health Organization (WHO) plane to Egypt to support the emergency medical response in Gaza. In collaboration with local health authorities, they are destined for healthcare facilities in the strip, and can help provide 800 surgical interventions. We need this delivery to happen as soon as possible.

We have teams on standby in Egypt, ready to send the medical supplies into Gaza, if allowed to safely do so, and to enter Gaza to support the emergency medical response if possible. They include medics, paramedics and logisticians.

In West Bank, our teams in Hebron, Nablus and Jenin have been actively assessing the medical needs as violence there is escalating. We are focused on emergency care and mental health care.

MSF is calling for an immediate ceasefire to spare the lives of Gazans and restore the flow of humanitarian assistance. We are also calling for lifting the siege to allow more and continuous humanitarian supplies to cross into Gaza, including essential items such as fuel, while ensuring safe passage to reach people with the greatest needs. 

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