The World Health Organisation has warned that Gaza is at risk of major disease outbreaks due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. With 22 out of 36 hospitals out of action, and overcrowded schools and other “collective centers” housing 800,000 people, skin infections like scabies, jaundice, and diarrhea are becoming increasingly common. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of adequate sanitation facilities, with just one toilet for several hundred people and “open defecation” being a common practice.
The schools were built to accommodate displaced people but their populations have ballooned six to eight times what they were originally intended for. In addition, many people are living in tents with limited access to clean water, with each person receiving only one to three liters per day. This has led to respiratory infections and concerns about hepatitis due to cases of jaundice.
The WHO is currently working with local authorities to trace the parents of 31 premature babies who were evacuated from al-Shifa hospital in southern Gaza and taken to other parts of the territory. These babies are very low in weight and have serious infections, leading Mr. Brennan to describe the next few weeks as “very tough indeed.” Many families are subsisting on just one meal a day.
Despite these challenges, Mr. Brennan did highlight one positive aspect: the evacuation of the premature babies from al-Shifa hospital. However, he emphasized that there is still much work to be done in order to ensure that these children receive the care they need and that their parents can be found. Overall, the situation in Gaza remains dire, with health risks continuing to rise as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.