Shortage of drugs and medical equipment in Gaza – worst since blockade initiated 7 years ago

The Palestinian Ministry of Health published a statement, stating that there is a severe shortage of drugs, medical equipment and diesel fuel. The Gaza Ministry of Health spokesperson, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, said in the official statement put out by his ministry that the shortage has reached a level that is without precedence since the initiation of the blockade 7 years ago (June of 2007). According to Al-Qudra, the Ministry is missing 30% of basic drugs, with 122 types of drugs out of stock, as well as 91 other types, mostly generic drugs, about to run out of stock in the coming few weeks. In addition, there is a shortage of 55% of basic medical equipment, with 471 types of equipment out of stock, and a further 85 types about to run out in the next few days.

A-Shifa Hospital in Gaza (Photo: International Committee of the Red Cross)

A-Shifa Hospital in Gaza (Photo: International Committee of the Red Cross)

According to the Gaza Administration of Pharmacy, bandages and dressings are just a part the long list of missing medical products, and patients who are need of such products will be forced to turn to the private market, where a few of them might still be available. Basic types of IV solutions have also run out in hospitals, as have anesthetics. The shortage is especially felt in orthopedic, cardiologic, intensive care, and surgical departments. The Administration added that it’s also missing medicine to treat infectious diseases, due to a recent spread of such diseases. The Palestinian Ministry of Health fears a worsening of the security situation, due to the fact that the hospitals in their current state are not adequately prepared.

At the same time, as of today there are only 8 hours of electricity a day in the Gaza strip. The Ministry of Health notes that there is a severe shortage of diesel fuel in hospitals across the Gaza strip, required for generators. According to the Ministry’s data, at the moment there are reserves of only 20% of the required amount of fuel, which stands at 240,000 liters of diesel fuel every month, an average of 8,000 liters a day. The fuel shortage is affecting the movement of ambulances and medical vehicles as well, which require 22,000 liters of diesel fuel and 12,000 liters of petrol every month. The fuel that is left will not last for more than a few days.

The Ministry of Health in Ramallah announced that despite the financial crisis that the Palestinian health system is facing, a decision has been made to transfer about a million NIS for the buying of diesel fuel for Gaza hospitals, while options for a long-term solution are being considered. Due to the grave situation, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has announced the halting of all non-urgent surgeries, and the decreasing of ambulance movement by 50%.