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Health situation in Gaza is “grim,” UN relief chief says

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 21 February 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:413
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Geneva

Health care in the Gaza Strip remains dire, top UN humanitarian officials have warned. Essential drugs, medical supplies and parts, and fuel to power hospital generators are in acute shortage, and travel for patients who are seeking urgent treatment outside the area is restricted.

The same officials have emphasised that the situation could deteriorate further unless Israel eases the restrictions that have curtailed the flow of humanitarian and commercial supplies to meet the needs of the 1.5 million population in Gaza.

The World Health Organization in its latest biannual plan for humanitarian action cautions that chronic situations, such as that in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel “will continue to deteriorate and will thus require significant resources in 2008-9.”

“I have been shocked by the grim and miserable things that I have seen and heard today, which are the result of current restrictions and the limitations on the number of goods that are being allowed into Gaza,” said Sir John Holmes, the UN emergency relief coordinator during a day long visit to the Gaza Strip.

Sir John, a former ambassador and diplomatic adviser to the former UK prime minister, …

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