January 21, 2008

The tightened blockade in recent days has sharply restricted resupplying activities in the Gaza Strip. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are continuing aid activities on site, but are concerned about shortages of medicine, problems with hospital services and limited access to medical care.

After Palestinian rockets were fired towards Israel and subsequent Israeli reprisals (military incursions and aerial bombings), the Gaza Strip has been subject to a strict blockade. On January 18, 2008, all Gaza checkpoints were closed to fuel and goods. They have since been partially reopened, but only for limited quantities of fuel and certain essential medical supplies.

Maintaining our aid activities

MSF continues to provide psychological and medical-social assistance and post-operative care. A pediatric project is scheduled to open in February in northern Gaza.

The MSF medical teams in Gaza have been in continuous contact with hospitals and report serious shortages in pharmaceutical supplies. They also note that programmed surgeries are no longer possible and that primary health care centers have had to limit their activities. Emergency supplies (dressings, medicines and medical materiel) will be provided to medical facilities in case of need.

“Because of electricity shortages and extremely limited fuel supplies, hospitals have become increasingly dependent on electrical generators," says Duncan, the head of mission. “The entire range of care has been affected and vital services – like operating rooms, emergency rooms and intensive care units – are particularly threatened.” Our clinics are prepared to deal with an influx of patients, although that number would represent only a small percentage of overall needs.

The current closure is worsening an already-grave situation, particular in the health sector. MSF is particularly concerned about the impact of this blockade on hospitals.

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