Dr. Sameer Abu Jayaab stands in front of the rubble of what was once an outpatient pharmacy at the Society of Physically Handicapped People in Gaza. It was destroyed in the 2014 war.
“Every time a crisis happens, we have to put our lives back together. We are always thinking about our patients who need us and benefit greatly from the society. You have to remember that patients with disabilities are at greater risk because they aren’t able to evacuate as fast as others.”
Since joining the society in 2004, Dr. Jayaab has devoted his efforts to its development and growth. So did other staff members, who themselves have different types of disabilities. Thanks to help from Anera, among others, the society was able to function again after the Gaza war of 2014, despite severe damage to the building itself.
“We woke up to realize that our limited stock of medicine had burned. There was nothing left and yet the number of patients had soared. After October 2014, we received an additional 576 cases over and above the 8,000 patients we previously saw each year ,” he said.
Every time a crisis happens, we have to put our lives back together.
“We woke up to realize that our limited stock of medicine had burned. There was nothing left and yet the number of patients had soared. After October 2014, we received an additional 576 cases over and above the 8,000 patients we previously saw each year,” he said.
Gaza Patients Well-Served with New Medical Supplies
Inside, Mahmoud Al Shorafa has come for his regular check-up, grateful that the society managed to resume its regular work so quickly after the war. The 52-year-old has been diagnosed with cardiac asthma, acute joint pain and stomach ulcers. Also, he has lived with infantile paralysis (polio) since the age of five.
But Mahmoud insists he is not depressed, despite his ailments: “I come here weekly and I’ve gotten plenty of care and support.” Still Mahmoud does worry because he cannot afford the high cost of medications. Those worries have been eased, thanks to Anera’s delivery of donated medicines from International Health Partners UK (IHP), including Lansoprazole and Piroxicam, which Mahmoud needs for his treatment. Lansoprazole is used to treat and prevent stomach and intestinal ulcers while Piroxicam is a painkiller to ease swollen joint paint.
Mahmoud is grateful for the free medicine and for the society’s care. “The community in general does not support people with disabilities. We are falling through the cracks. No jobs are available to us.” Mahmoud describes the society as the only refuge where he can find personalized medical care.
Vitamins for Students of All Ages
In addition to medicine, the shipment from IHP also included much-needed vitamins. Sixth-grader Abd Al Aziz El-Bilbesi is benefiting from the shipment. The society provides children attending its Shams Al Amal School for Handicapped Children with a daily tablet at school, in front of their teachers, to ensure that bottles are not being shared at home and tablets are being taken on a daily basis for maximum benefit.
The 12-year-old has cerebral palsy as a result of a lack of oxygen at birth. It has left him unable to control his movements. Abd is the only one among his six siblings with a disability but he says he has the full support of his whole family to face his challenges. He is persistent and determined to succeed in school and his progress has surprised his teachers and his parents.
Like many impoverished families in Gaza, Abd’s parents cannot afford to buy or grow nutritious foods to help promote the health and development of their children. “Not getting nutritious foods can be another challenge for children with disabilities because their bodies need essential minerals and other substances to help them grow and develop the strength to deal with their disabilities,” explained pharmacist Maha El-Jarousha. “These vitamins help build their strength and bolster their capacities.”
Anera has been working with IHP since 2010 to send vital medical supplies to Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.