Conditions are “dire” for exhausted medical workers in Gaza

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 09 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b87
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Geneva

    Conditions for medical personnel in Gaza are on the point of collapse, United Nations relief officials have warned. They say that exhausted hospital staff are overwhelmed by the number of casualties and are constrained by shortages in critical medical supplies and fuel. Medical staff and aid workers also face life threatening conditions in getting to work, reaching the wounded, and distributing aid.

    The World Health Organization said that 21 medical personnel have been killed and 30 injured and that 11 ambulances have been hit in the ongoing conflict.

    Since the outbreak of hostilities on 27 December, in Gaza 765 people have been reported dead, including many children and women, and more than 3100 wounded. In neighbouring southern Israel four people have died and 176 have been wounded as a result of rocket attacks by Hamas militants.

    WHO repeated its calls for an immediate improvement in the situation on the ground to allow the people in Gaza to reach essential care.

    However, in two separate incidents on Thursday 8 January, humanitarian convoys of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) came under Israeli fire.

    The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, condemned the firing by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on the UN aid convoy in Gaza, which, said a statement by his spokesperson, killed two UNRWA contract workers and injured another.

    “This incident took place during the …

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