Doctors in Palestine are worried about an antibiotic-resistant superbugs epidemic in Gaza and the West Bank, which is packing up the already deficient medical services in the strangled territories.
The situation in Gaza, subject to a blockade by Israel and Egypt, has prevented health professionals and institutions to get a hand on antibiotics, medicine or even get basic services such as electricity and water, making it difficult to treat illnesses in a proper way. Doctors knew that the situation could lead to an epidemic like this, but there was little that could be done.
Dina Nasser, the lead infection control nurse at Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem who has also worked in Gaza, told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ):
Such antibiotic-resistant outbreaks find a breeding ground in conflict zones, where people have to deal with scarcity and violence. In Gaza, doctors are forced to treat patients only partially, giving them incomplete courses of antibiotics and substituting treatments with what’s available.
The Gaza Strip suffers from a blockade by Egypt and Israel since 2006, arguing security concerns due to an armed conflict between Fatah and Hamas. Since then, the population has been severely affected by the travel and trade restrictions imposed by both countries, although Israel allowed some trade of consumer goods in 2010 and Egypt reopened the border in 2011.
Doctors say that patients injured by the occupation are at high risk of contracting the superbug. About 2000 Gazans who were shot by the Israeli Occupation Forces in their extremities have fallen sick with the resistant illness, complicating their treatment even more.
The Great March for Return began on March 30. Since then, over 255 Palestinians have been killed and over 20,000 injured. Many survivors have lost limbs after being shot by Israeli soldiers. Human rights organizations have condemned Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy.
Specialists think the bug could easily spread to nearby regions, as Gaza is not completely isolated. Patients may be transferred to other medical facilities in occupied Palestine, Israel, or neighboring countries, while healthy people could carry the bug outside without showing symptoms of being sick.
The situation will likely deteriorate as the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced dramatic cuts in aid to Gaza and the West Bank by Jan. 1, affecting about 193,000 Palestinians after the U.S. decided to stop funding assistance programs in Palestine.
Source: Palestine Chronicle