Across the world, health workers are risking their health on the frontline against the coronavirus pandemic. Everywhere, doctors, nurses, paramedics and other essential health professionals are doing all they can to treat those affected.
At the same time, people are self-isolating at home to help prevent the spread of the disease, and to relieve pressure on those same health workers – to “flatten the curve” and help save lives.
With cases of coronavirus now confirmed in Gaza, health workers there are also preparing to do their duty. But they do so in the harshest of circumstances.
Isolated from the world by 13 years of illegal closure and blockade, Gaza’s health system teeters on the brink of collapse. With shortages of essential medical supplies and only 62 ICU beds there is little hope of treating a significant outbreak. There is also a shortage of essential skills, with most health workers denied the opportunity to exit Gaza to attend trainings elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) or abroad.
As one of the most densely-populated places on earth, effective social isolation is near-impossible. With little clean water and widespread poverty, preventing the spread of coronavirus is a monumental challenge. High rates of malnutrition and poorly-managed underlying health conditions among the elderly leave many people vulnerable to the disease.
What is more, one year ago a UN investigation called the oPt “one of the most dangerous places in the world for healthcare workers.” As our new report shows, attacks on Palestinian health workers by Israeli forces happen time and time again. Those responsible are almost never held accountable, and victims and their families are thus denied justice.
It is important now more than ever that health workers are supported to do their vital work without fear of attack. Violence against health workers anywhere is a threat against health workers everywhere.
Source: Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)