WHO official: Without supplements, Gaza to run out of fuel within ten days

Hospitals and medical clinics which rely on backup generators to maintain operations are running dangerously low on fuel.

February 5, 2018 19:20
1 minute read.
Gaza hospital

Palestinian boy Ahmed Abu Saman, 16, who was injured in a car accident, lies on a bed at the emergency department at Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest public medical facility, in Gaza City, March 29, 2017.. (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

Fuel for hospitals and medical clinics in the Gaza Strip will run out within the next 10 days if no arrangements are made to replenish its supply, according to Mahmoud Daher, director of the World Health Organization’s offices in the coastal enclave.

“Without fuel for the backup generators, there will be a major crisis in the medical institutions,” Daher told The Jerusalem Post in a phone call on Monday.

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He said in such a scenario, dialysis and life-support machines will come to a halt, doctors will be unable to perform surgery, and x-ray and other critical medical equipment will be put of service.

Gaza suffers from severely inadequate electricity infrastructure, with most of the Strip currently receiving intervals of six hours of power followed by 12-hour blackouts.

There are approximately 14 hospitals and dozens of medical clinics in Gaza. During blackouts, hospitals and medical clinics rely on backup generators to maintain operations.

In the past couple of weeks, the Beit Hanoun Hospital in northern Gaza, as well as three medical clinics, have closed their doors.

According to Daher, the hospitals and clinics were shuttered to ration the remaining fuel in Gaza.

“Rationing the supply may give us a little more time, but it is no solution,” he said.

When Gazan medical facilities last faced a fuel shortage in mid-2017, the UN made some $3m. in emergency funding available for purchasing additional supplies.

Three million dollars covers approximately six months of fuel costs for backup generators.

However, the UN has not yet said if it will again bail out medical institutions in Gaza.

A spokesman for the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace process did not respond to phone calls.

Daher said the main shortterm solution is for some party to come forward with funding for additional fuel.

Palestinian Authority Health Ministry Spokesman Osama Najjar also did not respond to phone calls.

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