WHO urges the evacuation of 9,000 Gazan medical patients

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus took to X on March 30th to urge the evacuation of around 9,000 patients in the Gaza Strip requiring “lifesaving health services,” according to the New Arab and agencies

Hospitals — most of which are providing refuge for the thousands who have lost their homes or fled combat, as well as medical care — have become the consistent target of Israeli military assault. 

On March 24th, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) besieged both the Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals claiming that they acted as Hamas strongholds. Al-Shifa — the territory’s largest hospital — has also been repeatedly targeted for the same reason. 

Prior to the start of the Israel-Gaza War, the WHO reported 36 Gazan hospitals. Ghebreyesus shared that, as of now, there are only 10 Gazan hospitals “minimally functioning,” he wrote. 

READ: Tunisian hospitals to admit more Gazan patients

The 9,000 patients Ghebreyesus referred to are receiving treatment for “cancer, injuries from bombardments, kidney dialysis and other chronic conditions,” he wrote. This number has increased since the beginning of March when the WHO reported 8,000. 

“So far, over 3,400 patients have been referred abroad through Rafah, including 2,198 wounded and 1,215 ill,” Ghebreyesus wrote. “But many more need to be evacuated.”

Before the war, 50 to 100 patients a day were transferred to either East Jerusalem or the West Bank — half of them for cancer treatment. This contrasts with a halted Israeli government plan that officiated the return of 22 Palestinian medical patients back to war-torn Gaza — all of whom were in critical condition.

The war — which has resulted in a death toll of around 32,705 as of March 30th — has undoubtedly hit women and children the hardest. 

READ: Gaza crisis hits women the hardest

A World Bank food security report from March 20th warned that food shortages in Gaza were expected to lead to famine by May. On March 8th, the Associated Press (AP) reported that 20 children died at Al-Shifa due to malnutrition and dehydration. 

Gaza is now considered one of the most dangerous places for women, with a reported average of seven deaths every two hours. On March 6th, the WHO also reported that around 52,000 pregnant Gazan women were actively at risk. 

These issues could be remedied by consistent humanitarian aid, though Gaza is subject to an almost complete siege. NGOs and the United Nations have accused Israel of preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid needed by Rafah’s amassing 2.4 million inhabitants.

“We urge Israel to speed up approvals for evacuations, so that critical patients can be treated,” Ghebreyesus wrote. “Every moment matters.”

The New Arab and agencies

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