The lives of many critically ill and fragile patients hang in the balance, those in intensive care and others all face imminent deterioration of their condition or death, warns WHO...reports Asian Lite News
The World Health Organization (WHO) officials who have visited Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital said that the hospital has become a “death zone”. WHO and other UN agencies that visited the hospital said that they are in the process of evacuating the patients there.
The Israeli army has said that Hamas operatives have to be evacuated from Al-Shifa hospital premises. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been maintaining that Al-Shifa hospital premises has been working as a command centre for Hamas and that an underground tunnel network is operated from this hospital premises even though the hospital authorities and Gaza’s Ministry of Health vehemently denied it.
The Israeli army has also recovered the dead bodies of two women hostages near Al-Shifa hospital, indicating that the hospital premises was used as a place to keep the hostages kidnapped from Israel on October 7.
It may be noted that the IDF has said that it has recovered several arms and ammunition and military equipment from within the hospital as well as from nearby buildings.
The ground invasion that commenced on October 27 in retaliation to the massacre and mayhem of October 7 has led to more than 12,000 Palestinians losing their life. Several soldiers including senior officers were also killed on both sides.
“As the United Nation’s agency responsible for public health, the World Health Organization (WHO) strongly condemns Israel’s repeated orders for the evacuation of 22 hospitals treating more than 2000 inpatients in northern Gaza. The forced evacuation of patients and health workers will further worsen the current humanitarian and public health catastrophe,” a statement said.
The lives of many critically ill and fragile patients hang in the balance: those in intensive care or who rely on life support; patients undergoing hemodialysis; newborns in incubators; women with complications of pregnancy, and others all face imminent deterioration of their condition or death if they are forced to move and are cut off from life-saving medical attention while being evacuated, the world body said.
Health facilities in northern Gaza continue to receive an influx of injured patients and are struggling to operate beyond maximum capacity. Some patients are being treated in corridors and outdoors in surrounding streets due to a lack of hospital beds.
Forcing more than 2000 patients to relocate to southern Gaza, where health facilities are already running at maximum capacity and unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number of patients, could be tantamount to a death sentence.
Hospital directors and health workers are now facing an agonizing choice: abandon critically ill patients amid a bombing campaign, put their own lives at risk while remaining on site to treat patients, or endanger their patients’ lives while attempting to transport them to facilities that have no capacity to receive them. Overwhelmingly, caregivers have chosen to stay behind, and honor their oaths as health professionals to “do no harm,” rather than risk moving their critically ill patients during evacuations. Health workers should never have to make such impossible choices.
Columns of sick and injured — some of them amputees — were seen making their way out of Shifa hospital Saturday towards the seafront without ambulances along with displaced people, doctors and nurses, as loud explosions were heard around the complex.
The U.N. assessment team was meanwhile only able to spend an hour inside the hospital due to the security situation. The team, WHO said, described the hospital as a “death zone” and the situation as “desperate”.
“Signs of shelling and gunfire were evident. The team saw a mass grave at the entrance of the hospital and were told more than 80 people were buried there,” the statement said. A lack of clean water, fuel, medicines, food and other essential aid over six weeks had caused the largest and most advanced hospital in Gaza to basically stop functioning as a medical facility, WHO said.
“Corridors and the hospital grounds were filled with medical and solid waste, increasing the risk of infection.” Among the patients remaining in the hospital were 32 babies “in extremely critical condition,” WHO said.
There were also two people in intensive care without ventilation, 22 dialysis patients whose access to life-saving treatment was severely compromised, and many trauma victims. Several patients had died in the past two to three days “due to the shutting down of medical services,” WHO said.
The U.N. health agency said that given the state of the hospital, the team was asked to evacuate health workers and patients to other facilities. “We are working with partners to develop an urgent evacuation plan and ask for full facilitation of this plan,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X, formerly Twitter.
“We continue to call for protection of health and of civilians,” he said, lamenting that “the current situation is unbearable and unjustifiable. Ceasefire. NOW.” WHO said additional missions would go in “over the next 24-72 hours, pending guarantees of safe passage” to help transport patients to the Nasser Medical Complex and European Gaza Hospital in southern Gaza.