ICRC sends surgeons, supplies to meet overwhelming medical needs in Gaza

JERUSALEM, June 1 (Bernama) -- In order to meet the overwhelming rise in medical needs in Gaza, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is sending two surgical teams, additional medical specialists and an influx of supplies to fortify medical facilities struggling to assist residents affected by the recent violence.

This six-month boost in assistance will help Gaza's health system respond to longer-term needs after thousands of residents were recently wounded in violence, it said in a statement here today.

ICRC is sending in additional surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists, drugs and equipment.

"Thousands of Gaza residents are confronting new, long-term medical needs that the health care system simply can't handle. This infusion of medical expertise and material will expedite the long road to recovery and relieve a stressed and overburdened healthcare system, said ICRC's regional director of operations for the Near and Middle East, Robert Mardini.

Since protests and associated violence flared on March 30, more than 13,000 Palestinians have been wounded, including over 3,600 by live ammunition, some multiple times, for an estimated total of nearly 5,400 limb injuries.

The ICRC's priority is to help gunshot wound victims. Some 1,350 people with complex cases will need three to five operations each, a total of more than 4,000 surgeries, half of which will be carried out by the ICRC teams. Such a caseload would overwhelm any health system.

In Gaza, the situation is worsened by chronic shortages of drugs, equipment, and electricity.

The ICRC initiative, which will include the opening of a 50-bed surgical unit, is part of a US$5.3 million budget extension for Gaza.

The ICRC surgical teams and medical experts will be based in a wing of Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza. Other hospitals in Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent Society will also benefit from the assistance.




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