Al-Shifa Hospital is Gaza's largest medical hospital where the majority of patients go for treatment and surgical operations. But these days the hospital is struggling to treat its most critical patients.
Dr. Nael Skeek, head of Al-Shifa’s central pharmacy says the shelves are nearly empty because the blockade and closed borders have severely limited access for medicines and other supplies. Cancer drugs are no exception. "Gaza’s health sector has been dramatically affected. Patients are in desperate need of proper treatment and services that are protected by international humanitarian law," he says. "Cancer patients are especially sensitive to treatment delays and could die without medicine or chemotherapy. The medicine is costly and unaffordable outside the hospital.”
Anera Delivers Life-Saving Supply of Vital Cancer Drug for Treatment
Thanks to a generous donation from AmeriCares, Anera recently donated 600 vials of the chemotherapy medication Taxotere to Al-Shifa’s cancer unit. Dr. Skeek says it’s enough to cover up to two courses of treatment for 40 cancer patients. The smallest vial of this medicine would cost at least 100 NIS ($30) and each patient requires a complete cycle of treatment – at least 12 vials. The cost of that treatment is out of the reach of most patients.
Dr. Mohamad Daloo, head of the hospital’s cancer therapy, is extremely thankful for the donated medicine and hopes to receive more in the future. His waiting list of patients exceeds 30. "The 600 vials of Taxotere saved our pharmacy and enabled us to help 40 out of 70 patients who need this medicine regularly for treatment."
With continuing shortages of vital medicines, many patients in Gaza suffering from serious chronic diseases have been transferred abroad for treatment. But Dr. Daloo says getting permission to leave Gaza is a challenge. “Many patients have to wait two or three weeks in order to get permits for travel, sometimes longer." He says for cancer patients it becomes a matter of life and death.
Jameel El-Bayed, a 55-year-old father of seven, needs Taxotere therapy for two full cycles of treatment. “I received three vials and was shocked to learn that the hospital had no more medicine available.” Jameel says he is fortunate, thanks to Anera’s donation, and now will be able to resume his cancer treatment.