Patients in Gaza face danger to their lives due to lack of medicine

Dozens of dialysis patients lie on beds inside a large room at Shifa Medical Hospital, west of Gaza City, marking the date of their treatment session in light of the grave danger facing their lives.

The patient with kidney failure is connected to the dialysis device through a small plastic tube that is clipped to his hand or another part of his body, while the wheel of the device begins to spin to start the treatment phase, which may take 4 hours.

Despite the importance of the session for the continuation of the lives of kidney patients in the Gaza Strip, it remains incomplete and poses a great threat to them, since the hormone “erythropoietin” responsible for the industrial formation of red blood cells does not exist.

Patient Ibrahim al-Akhras, while sitting on one of the beds in the room, complains that he has not received the hormone for 3 months, expressing his fear of being exposed to “anemia” as a result.

The old man, whose hair has turned gray, told Xinhua that he needs dialysis three times a week, but he is forced to suffice once a week due to the lack of medical supplies he needs each time.

Al-Akhras called in an intermittent voice as a result of the stress and fatigue that all local, Arab and international parties seemed to provide to the Gaza Strip with medical supplies and medicines as they are necessary for the continuity of human life.

The number of kidney failure patients in Gaza is 900, while the number of patients who underwent kidney transplantation is 333, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Strip.

The situation was not better for the girl, Duaa Dalloul, who hardly wakes up from her long sleep until exhaustion overcomes her again in light of the severe anemia that afflicted her due to the deficiency of the hormone used to treat anemia caused by chronic kidney disease.

Her mother, who is sad about her daughter's condition, told Xinhua that Doaa is about to undergo a kidney transplant during the next stage, and she is unable to receive external blood units as an alternative to the hormone, because this will prevent her from performing the operation, leaving her in this state of fatigue and exhaustion for her and her family.

Dalloul adds that the hormone interruption has exacerbated Doaa's ongoing suffering, calling on the United Nations and international institutions to work to provide the necessary hormones for patients with renal failure to exercise their minimum daily activity.

Doctors and specialists attribute the increase in the number of people with kidney failure as a result of the increase in the number of people with high blood pressure, diabetes, urinary tract infections and the formation of stones.

According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, 10% of people in the world have chronic kidney disease, and nearly 850 million people in the world have causes leading to kidney disease, while it ranked 18th in the list of diseases that cause death, while in Palestine it is the ninth cause.

Simultaneously, the Palestinian Ministry of Health, run by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the Gaza Strip, warned of the aggravation of the suffering of kidney patients and the dangerous repercussions on them as a result of running out of the hormone in light of the lack of financial ability to purchase it monthly.

Director of the Hospital Pharmacy Department at the ministry, Alaa Helles, told Xinhua that most of the real resources for providing treatment are either through direct purchase or through grants through international institutions.

Helles added that due to the scarcity of grants and the inability to purchase the hormone, as it is a monthly need, the sector is in dire need of about 10,000 monthly doses of the hormone, including 8,000 doses for hemodialysis patients and 2,000 doses for kidney failure patients.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza suffers from a shortage of basic medicines by 45%, and a shortage of medical consumables by 33%, while the shortage in laboratory supplies has reached 56%, according to officials in the Ministry.

The head of the Artificial Kidney Department at Al-Shifa Hospital, Abdullah Al-Qishawi, said in a statement that the deficiency of the hormone responsible for maintaining the blood level leads to many complications, including anemia, and may lead to complications up to heart failure.

Al-Qishawi points out that many patients who are scheduled to undergo kidney transplants will threaten their operations if the hormone is replaced by adding new blood units, as the body is likely to have antibodies to the blood units and thus attack the transplanted kidney and lead to its failure.

Israel has imposed a tight siege on the Gaza Strip since 2007, after Hamas took control of it by force, after rounds of internal fighting with the security services loyal to the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas officials have always complained that the consequences of the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip have been disastrous, increasing poverty and unemployment, accusing Israel of banning the shipment of medical equipment and devices to the Strip.

Engineers at Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, are busy repairing a number of medical devices, including X-rays, some of which have been broken and out of service due to the lack of spare parts needed to repair them due to Israeli restrictions on the crossings.

The problems of medical devices with overuse are represented in the non-supply of devices and other failures, according to Kamal Gabr, director of the radiology department in the hospital, told Xinhua.

Jabr explains that the hospital’s operations department has 4 x-ray machines out of 6, some of which have been out of work since 2019, noting that the pressure of the need for these devices as a result of the deterioration of a number of them prompted the ministry to finance the supply of 14 new devices, but the Israeli authorities have prevented their entry for several months.

Specialists and human rights advocates believe that the Israeli authorities' prevention of coordination for the introduction of devices has a significant impact on the decline in the health service provided to patients with the new Corona virus (Covid-19), intensive clinics and respiratory triage departments. 

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