The World Health Organization warns that Gaza’s broken healthcare and sanitation infrastructure need to be repaired.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that if the sanitation and health systems in the Gaza Strip are not fixed, more people may perish from illness than from bombardment.
Since Israel began its airstrikes on Gaza on October 7, shortages of fuel and supplies, as well as deliberate attacks on hospitals and United Nations institutions, have severely damaged the beleaguered territory’s critical infrastructure.
Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson, stated at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that “if we are not able to put back together this health system, eventually we will see more people dying from disease than from bombardment.”
She expressed worry over the incarceration of part of the hospital’s medical personnel by Israeli soldiers who had taken control of the facility earlier this month and called the collapse of al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza a “tragedy.”
She also expressed alarm once more about the increase of infectious illness epidemics in Gaza, especially those related to diarrhea.
“[There are] no medicines, no vaccination activities, no access to safe water and hygiene, and no food,” she stated, citing a UN assessment on the living circumstances of displaced residents in northern Gaza.
‘Risk of significant epidemics’
Due to the closure of Gaza’s main sanitary facilities, there is a significant risk of a sharp increase in infectious and gastrointestinal illnesses, including cholera, among the local populace.
It is now nearly difficult for Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants—half of whom are children—to find clean drinking water.
Over 44,000 cases of diarrhea and 70,000 cases of acute respiratory infections have been reported to the WHO; however, actual figures may be far higher.
According to the UN health organization, there is serious worry that the already terrible situation will worsen due to rain and flooding over the next winter season.
Children with combat wounds and gastroenteritis from drinking contaminated water were being treated in hospitals, according to James Elder, a spokesman for the UN children’s agency in Gaza, who talked with reporters via video connection. He claimed that the lack of access to clean water is harming the people.
The likelihood of significant outbreaks will rise sharply if nothing changes, according to Richard Brennan, the WHO’s regional emergency director for the Eastern Mediterranean region, who spoke with Al Jazeera earlier this month.
Truce is insufficient.
The Ministry of Health, which is managed by Hamas, stated that fuel for generators at hospitals located in the northern part of the territory has not yet arrived, despite the interim truce deal between Israel and Hamas being extended by two days shortly before it was about to expire on Tuesday morning.
The humanitarian situation, according to UN official Tor Wennesland, “remains catastrophic.”
The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process stated that in order to lessen the indescribable suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, it “requires the urgent entry of additional aid and supplies in a smooth, predictable, and continuous manner.”
Yahya al-Siraj, the mayor of Gaza City, issued a warning about a potential “catastrophe” for public health when he stated that the region could not pump clean water or remove rubbish that was piling up in the streets without gasoline.
Al-Shifa, the biggest hospital in Gaza, was cleaning up. According to Mahmud Hammad, a spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, “We hope it can soon resume its activities.”
Health officials in the enclave report that over 14,800 Palestinians have died as a result of Israeli shelling, including 6,150 children and over 4,000 women.