Operation Pillar of Defense
Information Overview: Medical Supplies in Gaza
The long standing shortage of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza stems primarily from a dysfunctional relationship between the Palestinian Ministries of Health in Gaza and Ramallah. The conflicts between the two offices have resulted not only in a shortage of medicines and supplies, but also in restricted access to medical treatments for patients outside of Gaza.
The Coordination and Liaison Administration to Gaza:
1. The CLA works to ensure that patients from Gaza have the access they need to get medical treatments.
2. Of the thousands of patients that requested permits to enter Israel for medical treatments, 99.3% were approved. Patients were only denied permits when it was determined that they could receive necessary treatment inside Gaza (Sept 2012).
3. From January to October 2012, more than 14,500 permits were issued by the Gaza CLA for patients and their chaperones to leave Gaza through the Erez Crossing.
4. All the requests for medical supplies (equipment and medicine) submitted by the international community to the Gaza CLA have been approved for entry into Gaza.
5. On average medical supply requests (medicines and light equipment) are approved within a span of 24-72 hours. Coordination of approved medical supplies is completed within one working day after the organization submits the intended day of import.
6. Since September 2012, international organizations, in coordination with the Gaza CLA, have impoted 32 trucks of drugs and medical supplies through Kerem Shalom Crossing. This has included spare parts for dialysis machines, helium for MRI machines, and three fully equipped ambulances. An additional five loads of medicine were imported into Gaza through the Erez Crossing through special coordination.
Shortages and Restricted Access:
1. The restricted medical supplies in Gaza are marked by a shortage of 400-500 varieties of medical equipment (out of a defined 700), including a shortage of surgical and anesthetic equipment.
2. There is an average shortage of 33% of desired types of drugs at any given time.
3. According to the World Health Organization, the process of referrals for patients from Gaza to receive treatment in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan was suspended for nearly 10 days due to disagreements between the Ramallah and Gaza Health Ministries. As a result, a 38% reduction in monthly referrals left several hundred patients without necessary treatment.
4. The WHO reports that due to the failure of the Palestinian Ministry of Health to pay its accruing debts to Jordan, Jordanian hospitals refused to accept government referrals of patients from Gaza.
5. Medical suppliers are often reluctant to sell supplies to Gaza since there are issues with non-payment.
Operation Pillar of Defense:
1. Gaza hospitals are reported to be at 80% capacity, only slightly higher than intake then during routine periods.
2. On November 17th, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories updated Hassin el Alshich that, despite the problematic security situation and the ongoing rocket fire, it would be possible to transfer medical supplies into Gaza.
3. Tomorrow morning, 18 November 2012, 10 Red Cross trucks with medical supplies and one UNRWA truck are scheduled to enter Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Two trucks have been designated as being of particular importance as they are carrying much needed anesthetics and bandages.
4. Since the start of the operation there have been two reported incidents of light damage to medical facilities due to shocks from Israeli air strikes on terrorist infrastructure in the vicinity.
a. Light damage to windows and doors of the Al-Quds hospital and the nearby Palestinian Red Crescent station in the Gaza district. Two Al Quds workers also sustained light injuries.
b. Light damage to windows in the Al-Karma hospital in the Jabaliya District.