Delivering Medicine for Gaza's Elderly Diabetes Patients
“Saving the lives of the elderly is the most significant act.” — Dr. Haya Al-Agha
Haya Al-Agha is a doctor who works with Caritas Clinic in Gaza. Today, she and her colleagues are visiting Bureij Refugee Camp in the middle of Gaza. Normally on site visits like this, they see around 60 patients a day.
“Our goal is to reach all those who are cut off from basic and essential health care services,” she says. They focus particularly on the elderly, an overlooked age group that she says is one of the most vulnerable in Gaza.
Due to the fragile and overextended health care system and the lack of medicine, Dr. Al-Agha is constantly anxious about the health of her patients. Her fears have only grown stronger with the onslaught of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Today, Dr. Al-Agha sees Salma, one of her regular patients. Salma is a 65-year-old resident of Bureij. She lives with her son in a one-room house. Somehow, they live on as little as $35 (100 NIS) per month. This extreme poverty has affected every aspect of Salma’s daily life.
In addition to the poverty she endures, Salma has spent that last two decades managing Type 2 diabetes. In the beginning, she tried to ignore her worsening health. Eventually she went to the doctor and took a hemoglobin test, which revealed the diagnosis. Her blood sugar level was well above normal. The doctor prescribed empagliflozin and metformin hydrochloride, which she has taken ever since.
“If the medicine isn't available on time, diabetes may take a toll” on patients like Salma, Dr. Al-Agha says. “It would put them at serious risk for strokes, vision loss, and kidney failure,” she says.
If Salma had to buy her medication, a month’s supply would cost almost her entire monthly income. “It would be completely unaffordable,” Salma says.
Dr. Al-Agha is deeply passionate about her work to help ensure that vulnerable elderly people receive proper health care. “Saving the lives of the elderly is the most significant act,” she says.
“I am so grateful for this donation of [empagliflozin and metformin hydrochloride tablets] from Americares. It is needed every day to help our patients survive.”
As Anera responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are ensuring that our regular shipments of medications continue. These medicines help treat medical conditions known to exacerbate cases of the COVID-19 virus. Synjardy-XR (generic name: empagliflozin and metformin hydrochloride) is one such medicine included in this Americares shipment. Known comorbidity conditions for the coronavirus include chronic lung diseases, asthma, serious heart conditions, being immunocompromised, obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and liver disease.
This shipment was made possible thanks to a generous donation from Americares. It contained antibiotics, diabetes medication, anti-hyperlipidemia medicine, and anti-inflammatory ointment. Empagliflozin / metformin is a medication that helps treat type 2 diabetes along with a healthy lifestyle. Anera distributed the medicine to 12 hospitals and clinics across Gaza, including Caritas Clinic.