"Unfortunately, the number of patients coming into the hospital is not going to end anytime soon. Our need for medicine, antibiotics, anesthesia and other medical supplies is very high." - Dr. El Jeidi, resident at Al Shifa
Long before protests began in April of this year, Gaza’s health sector was already in a state of crisis. Now with ongoing violence at the Gaza-Israel border, it is on the brink of collapse. This dire situation has brought a new attention to the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The increasing number of injuries from bullet wounds has pushed doctors beyond their limit in terms of supplies, medicine, and time.
“With the large number of wounded coming into the hospital in the past five months there have been no available beds. Some people are treated in hallways or even at hospital’s entry gates,” says Soha, a pharmacist at Al Shifa. Adding,
“As the crisis got worse, appeals were sent to donors and charitable organizations urging them to help restock the warehouse with essential medicines. Our supply is always being depleted and the hospital is over-stretched in trying to meet the needs of the injured. During emergencies, we use threefold the quantity of supplies than during ‘normal’ times.”
One incident she recalled that deeply shook her was when she learned one of her son’s classmates was shot in the cheek. What made it more painful was her realization that many of these cases end up needing amputation or the removal of a significant amount of damaged tissue and bone. Thus, permanently disabling her son’s friend for life.
Dealing with the Emergency at Al Shifa Hospital
To cope with the emergency, Al Shifa has taken drastic measures by opening up all departments for trauma care. With all four ICU units at full capacity, sometimes the hospital’s doctors have to turn away patients with minor injuries. Doctor El Jeidi, a resident at the hospital, pointed out that many serious injuries from across Gaza have been transferred to Al Shifa, “We are the largest hospital with the most specialists. Unfortunately, the number of patients coming into the hospital is not going to end anytime soon. Our need for medicine, antibiotics, anesthesia and other medical supplies is very high.”
Standing in the hospital’s nursing station, Mohamed, a nurse at Al Shifa, is preparing a vial of the antibiotic Ceftriaxone Sodium for a patient who was shot in the thigh during protests. His patient’s situation became critical when an infection spread throughout his wound. Thankfully, because of a generous donation of medicines from international donors, Mohamed was able to stop the spread of the infection.
Sadly, when we lack certain medicine, people have to buy it from outside pharmacies or the black market. Because of the grim economy, medicine is expensive and totally unaffordable for the majority of people in Gaza. Especially if you need these medicines on a regular basis such as saline solutions, certain painkillers and all types of antibiotics,” says Mohammed.
With generous funds from the Ray of Light Foundation, Anera has been able to respond to Al Shifa Hospital’s appeal for urgently needed antibiotics, medicines, and supplies such as Cefazolin, Ceftriaxone, painkillers, and saline solutions.