Anera Delivers Essential Medicines Amidst Severe Shortages in Gaza
“Al Quds Hospital receives the second largest number of patients in Gaza, right after Al Shifa Hospital,” said Dr. Ibrahim Hamad, a physician at Al Quds.
Not long ago Al Quds Hospital sent an urgent appeal describing the dire shortages in its stocks for essential items. Saline solution was on the top of the list.
“Al Quds Hospital takes in the second largest number of patients in Gaza, right after Al Shifa Hospital,” said Dr. Ibrahim Hamad, a physician at Al Quds. “We were at zero stock of saline solution, which is a very ordinary item but is critically important as it’s used in almost all of our departments.”
Local hospitals in Gaza are currently facing severe shortages of medicines due to the dramatic increase in injury cases they have seen since March 2018, when Palestinians began demonstrating at the Gaza fence.
Dr. Hamad considers all the injuries he and his team have attended to on Fridays this year enough for a lifetime.
“We receive dozens of cases every Friday. That’s why we have opened three mobile hospitals along the wall. Our paramedics are committed to helping the injured quickly, which means being near where the the incidents are happening. The first step to treating the injured is irrigation of the wound using saline solution. Our emergency responders use it before bringing patients to the hospital,” he said.
Medical facilities are buckling under the pressure of dealing with so many additional casualties at a time when the health system in Gaza was already weakened by shortages of fuel, medicine and equipment.
The Cycle of Medicine in Gaza
When a shipment of medicine or medical supplies arrives at the central storage warehouse of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), Dr. Safa Hawar and her colleagues, who all work at the warehouse, do an inventory of the donated items and prepare them for transfer to hospital pharmacies.
“All the urgent requests for medicine come here,” she explains. Dr. Hawar is constantly updating medical professionals across Gaza on inventory levels at the warehouse. “My phone is ringing off the hook,” she says. “My colleagues and I are all on call all the time. There is a huge demand for medicine. When our storage facility runs low on medicines and medical supplies, doctors across Gaza get anxious.”
“Saline is an essential item in the surgery, since it’s needed to administer medicines intravenously during operations,” says Dr. Hawar. “It’s used to treat dehydration, to flush wounds in order to prevent and treat infection, to administer diluted medications, and to maintain a proper fluid balance and blood pressure while a patient is in surgery,” she said.
A walk through the emergency room unit of Al Quds Hospital reveals a number of patients connected to IV drip stands.
“We have enough saline bags to sustain us for a month,” Dr. Hamad says. “For 30 Fridays in a row, we’ve had to respond to regular emergencies. When the hospital has adequate supplies, we can respond efficiently to treat the cases we receive.”
Thanks to a generous donation from Americares, 13 health facilities across Gaza have received normal saline solution shipments. The shipments are distributed based on the size and needs of each facility.