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Gaza Medical Activities Increasing in Wake of Ceasefire
January 20, 2009
Medical activities carried out by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) inside the Gaza Strip have increased over the last 48 hours, in the wake of the Israeli and Hamas ceasefires.
On January 17, a six-person international medical team-composed of a vascular surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, an anesthetist, an operating room nurse, a logistician, and a field coordinator-entered Gaza. On January 18, the medical staff carried out two surgical procedures in Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where MSF has been providing medical supplies and personnel support. Hospital staff had carried out close to 500 interventions during the three weeks of fighting, with at least 40 percent of the injured requiring amputations. With an already large presence of international medical staff at Al Shifa, MSF is exploring additional ways to assist the affected population.
Inflatable Hospitals Going Up in Gaza City
A cargo freight of 21 tons of medical materials flown by MSF from Europe on January 15 finally arrived in Gaza City on January 19 after clearing security and customs procedures. Among the items delivered are drugs, surgical kits for 300 procedures, and 100 hospitalization kits.
Logistics staff are constructing two inflatable hospital tents that were also included in the cargo load. They will contain two operating rooms and a ten-bed intensive care unit for the MSF surgical team to work in. The tents are being placed close to MSF's post-op clinic in Gaza City and will be operational shortly.
Resuming Full Medical Activities; Cases Expected to Increase
The MSF team in Gaza, made up of 70 Palestinian staff and currently 12 international staff, has resumed its full range of activities, which were suspended during the fighting. At the MSF post-operative clinic in Gaza City, medical staff treated 30 people on January 19. Four people were treated at the MSF clinic in the southern Gazan town of Khan Younis, and four consultations were carried out at the MSF pediatric clinic in the northern town of Beit Lahia.
Patient numbers are expected to increase as people slowly begin to move more freely in their neighborhoods and seek out medical assistance. MSF teams are carrying out assessments in various locations in Gaza to determine overall levels of medical needs, including at gathering points of internally displaced persons. Nine more international staff are scheduled to arrive in Gaza tomorrow. Additional MSF staff and materials will be positioned inside Gaza if necessary.