Public Health disaster in Gaza strip

PMRS Urgent Appeal for Support to Avert Public Health Disaster in the Gaza Strip
Gaza City, 28-06-06:

Gaza has once again become the target of Israeli military invasions and the subject of methods of collective punishment, further exacerbating an existing, severe humanitarian situation in the Strip, and in Palestine as whole. Escalating levels of violence; the targeting of civlian infrastructure; the rising number of civilian deaths; prolonged border closures; cuts to humanitarian aid; and acute levels of poverty have clear, negative implications for both the status of public health in the Gaza Strip, and the ability of health institutions such as the Palestinian Medical Relief Society to maintain provision of critical health services.

PMRS is in urgent need of essential equipment, first aid supplies, medical materials and medications in order to sustain the work of its emergency response services. As such, it appeals to the generosity of all its friends throughout the world for support in helping it contribute to averting a public health disaster.

Invasion of Gaza & Destruction of Civilian Infrastructure

After amassing scores of tanks and thousands of soldiers along the border with Gaza over the past 3 days following a Palestinian attack on an Israeli military post along the border with Rafah last Sunday in which one Israel soldier was taken hostage, Israel launched renewed air attacks on civilian infrastructure in the Strip on the night of 27 June, destroying two bridges and a main road linking north, central and southern Gaza. As a result, Gaza has been cut into two and movement between the north, centre and south is now obstructed. In addition, the shelling of the Strip’s main power station, which supplies up to 78 percent of the population with electricity, has left many Gazans without electricity and water supplies have also been affected due to a lack of electricity to power pumps. It will take at least 6 months to repair this power station if Israel ends its attacks, and if the necessary equipment is available in the Gaza Strip. Israel has also threatened to cut water supplies.

Recent Escalation of Violence

This latest invasion comes in the context of a recent escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, the Israeli military has launched a total of 18 extrajudicial executions in the Gaza Strip since January 2006. In addition, 77 air strikes were launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip between 29 March and 30 May

Implications for PMRS

As one of the largest and oldest non-governmental health service providers in Palestine , PMRS has a long history of overcoming challenges in maintaining the regular and affordable provision of basic services, which it achieves through its extensive physical and human network, and through its demonstrated capacity to adapt and respond quickly to needs on the ground. Yet PMRS has been facing its own funding shortages in recent years which have affected its ability to maintain the provision essential services, particularly primary healthcare services, emergency healthcare services, including the running of many ambulances and mobile clinics, and community-based rehabilitation services, including PMRS lending centres for assistive devices for people with disabilities. In addition, PMRS is unable to sustain the high cost of providing medications and milk powder, such as PediaSure, Neocate Powder, and Enfamil Phenylalanine Free Diet Powder, to infants with special needs. Ironically, it is at this critical time that PMRS faces a scarcity of essential medicines and medical equipment, and that it may be forced to close a number of its 26 Primary Healthcare Centres, and halt the operation of some of its ambulances and mobile clinics. Under better circumstances, this would be devastating, yet in the current context, it is nothing short of a disaster. The current invasion places further strain on PMRS services in Gaza, which include 4 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC’s), 1 rehabilitation centre, 1 physiotherapy centre, and 1 central pharmacy. While the number of dead and injured is set to rise, the ability of these facilities to continue functioning has been undermined by electricity cuts, and border closures affecting stocks of medications and medial supplies. We are therefore appealing to the generosity of all our friends and supporters throughout the world in helping us face this crisis. PMRS is seeking to purchase at least 4 generators to sustain the services of its Gaza health facilities at a cost of US$ 8,000 each, together with medications, and medical and first aid supplies, and to support 2 additional emergency teams made up of doctors, nurses and health workers, to provide 24-hour emergency response care.

Donations can be made to the following:
Account Holder: Palestinian Medical Relief Society
Name of Bank: Arab Bank
Account Number: 49-857-9090-667667
Branch: Ramallah # 49-857
Address: Ramallah, West Bank

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