Monday, December 10, 2018

700 Gaza cancer patients to go without treatment


By Myriam Purtscher - August 13, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza] [Gaza Blockade] [medical supplies]

The Gaza Ministry of Health has declared they have no option but to cease cancer treatment as of August 13 due to an 80 percent depletion of chemotherapy medications in the besieged enclave. 

Health officials in Gaza reported 700 patients, including 200 children being treated in Gaza City’s Abdel al-Aziz al-Rantisi Hospital missed their cancer treatment on Monday as stock of the drug Neubogen, which is used to raise immunity in patients, fell to dangerously low levels.
 
Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qadra stated in a Palestinian News Network article the severe depletion of the cancer drugs in Gaza makes all therapeutic protocols completely impractical.
 
“As a result, this is putting the lives of hundreds of patients in real danger if the drug crisis is not terminated immediately,” al-Qandra said.
 
According to the Palestinian News Network, the Palestinian Authority announced on their official news site WAFA they will send urgent medical supplies to Gaza to mitigate the drug shortages at the two main hospitals which treat cancer patients.
 
“Following the instructions of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas and [PA] Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, [PA] Health Minister Jawad Awad ordered that medications needed to treat cancer be sent to the ministry’s storage facilities in the Gaza Strip,” the WAFA report stated.
 
The report did not however, state the amount of drugs which will be dispatched nor the timeframe in which the patients can expect to see their treatment resume.
 
Gaza healthcare system on the brink of collapse
 
The Gaza Strip is currently suffering from a major humanitarian crisis due to the continued blockade by Israel, where the population of two million lack basic access to not only food, but rudimentary healthcare and electricity to hospitals.
 
Around 1,500 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Gaza. However, due to severe sanctions, chemotherapy drugs are often not always available, nor is radiotherapy, molecular therapy, PET scans or isotope scans which are needed to provide adequate cancer screening.
 
Israel also restricts the movement of Palestinians leaving Gaza, often denying many from accessing adequate health care within Israel and the West Bank without explanation.
 
According to the World Health Organisation, approval rates for exit permits from Gaza dropped as low as 44 percent in October 2016, compared with 82 percent in 2014 and 93 percent in 2012.
 
Lack of access to early detection breast cancer screening for Gazan women shows the five-year survival rates are as low as 30 percent, compared with around 85 percent in England and 86 percent in Israel. Radiotherapy, which is critical to breast cancer treatment, is unavailable in Gaza.
 
In February the Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) warned the state of Gazan healthcare system is on the “brink of collapse” as Israel tightened control of medical supplies and electricity to hospitals.
 
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has also imposed strict sanctions against Gaza in an attempt to put pressure on the Hamas, the group governing Gaza, to relinquish power over the Strip.
 
In 2017 the PA halted shipments of medical supplies and equipment to Gaza for several months, but resumed in November 2017. However, according to the Rantisi Hospital director Muhammed Abu Silmiya, the renewed shipments is not sufficient to provide all of Rantisi Hospital’s needs for chemotherapy medications. 

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