The War in Gaza is Creating a Health Crisis That Will Span Decades

Grace Wade in New Scientist: The situation in Gaza is rapidly devolving into the worst humanitarian crisis in modern memory, and international health organizations have no long-term plans for addressing the territory’s post-war needs.

More than three-quarters of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents, half of whom are children, are internally displaced, trapped in one of the most densely populated areas in the world with minimal access to food, water or healthcare. Since 7 October, when Hamas militants from Gaza invaded Israel and killed more than 1000 civilians, Israel has intensely bombed the enclave, hindered the flow of humanitarian aid and decimated civilian infrastructure. As a result, more than 30,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza – mostly women and children – according to the United Nations, and more than 72,000 have been injured. Yet, these figures signal only the beginning of the public health catastrophe. Those who survive the war will face lifelong health effects. Thousands of Palestinians will be living with missing limbs, compromised immunity, mental illness and other chronic conditions. Meeting their health needs will be a decades-long undertaking, one that no global aid organization has adequately planned for…

An unprecedented humanitarian disaster

The lack of planning for the coming decades of healthcare needs is partly due to the enormity of the current humanitarian crisis. Most people in Gaza are living in crowded conditions without sewage treatment and trash removal. On average, people have less than 1 liter of clean water per day. As a result, infectious disease is rampant. A survey in a limited number of shelters in December and January found that at least 90 per cent of children under 5 years old have one or more infectious illnesses and 70 per cent have had diarrhoea in the past two weeks. “And that doesn’t account for the hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t in refugee shelters,” says Margaret Harris at the WHO. More here.

VIDEO: Guernica, Gaza