Medical experts deployed by Trócaire’s partner Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) have reported harrowing injuries and evidence of serious malnutrition at the hospital in Gaza where they are working to help treat an unprecedented influx of casualties from Israel’s military bombardment.
Reporting from Gaza, Professor Nick Maynard, who is a senior surgeon from Oxford University Hospital and the clinical lead, said, “The injuries we’re witnessing are predominantly blast injuries with shrapnel wounds all over the body. Most are to the limbs, and multiple adults and children and babies are coming in with traumatic amputations of arms and legs. We’ve seen small children with the most horrible facial burns. Every square inch of the hospital – the halls, the staircases, the reception areas, the wards – are covered with people lying on the ground.”
“We are also seeing children and adults in the hospital with serious malnutrition. At the first hint of any infection these patients lose weight rapidly and look ever more profoundly malnourished.”
With more than 53,600 people injured so far, Gaza’s healthcare system and its staff are on the brink of catastrophic collapse. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 13 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are currently partially functional. Hospitals are facing critical shortages of basic supplies and fuel, and occupancy rates are now reaching 206% capacity in inpatient departments and 250% capacity in intensive care units.
Quite apart from the casualties resulting from the bombardment, Israel’s siege, destruction of essential infrastructure and the displacement of 1.9 million people, many into overcrowded shelters, are causing a public health catastrophe. A quarter of people have completely exhausted their food supplies and face starvation.
Senior Technical Advisor for Emergency Health, paediatrician Dr. Seema Jilani said, “The scenes inside Gaza are harrowing. In just the first few hours at the hospital, I treated a little boy around a year old who lost his right arm and leg in the bombing – I treated him on the floor as no stretchers were available. Orphaned children and babies are arriving with severe burns, in shock, shaking with fear and barely alive. My heart is breaking for the children of Gaza.”
The work at this hospital was made possible by an incredibly generous legacy donation by one of Trócaire’s donors.
Guided by MAP’s more than 30 years of experience working inside Gaza, the Emergency Medical Team, comprises a group of trauma doctors, surgeons, paediatricians and humanitarian experts. They are working alongside their local counterparts to support the treatment of trauma injuries, the provision of emergency and urgent clinical care and emergency resuscitation.
As well as Emergency Medical Teams, MAP and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are working together to supply essential medical items, including those needed to treat trauma injuries, to Gaza’s hospitals through the Rafah Crossing with Egypt. On Friday 29 December, the latest shipment of four truckloads of medicines and disposables entered Gaza, for distribution to Ministry of Health hospitals in the South and Middle Areas of Gaza.