Seven-month-old Adham Baroud is seen here at the Al Rantissi Children‟s Hospital‟s in Gaza City‟ suffering from acute chronic renal failure while he was waiting for permission from the government of Israel to be able to travel for treatment.
The permit never came – Adham died at around 1am on 26 December. He was referred to Israel for emergency treatment by his doctors in Gaza on 1 December. By the 19th, when this photo was taken, Adham was described by doctors at the hospital‟s Intensive Care Unit as “terminal”.
Acting Hospital Director Dr Mustafa Al Aqila told Oxfam that Adham was referred to Israel after a catheter inserted four months earlier in a previous operation in Israel got infected. The boy was born suffering from congenital renal problems requiring specialised treatment that is unavailable in Gaza.
“Adham needed immediate surgery and we couldn‟t provide that kind of service in Gaza,” Dr Al Aqila said. “We waited for Israel‟s permission to send him for treatment, like we did in the past, but the more time passed the more complicated his situation became.”
“We want to expand our services but the siege limits our development,” Dr Al Aqila said.
While emergency beds for patients waiting for permission to travel for treatment may not always be immediately available in Israeli hospitals, Israel, as the occupying power, is obliged under international law to ensure the welfare of Palestinian civilians whenever the existing resources do not suffice.
At the moment, the Gaza Strip is also suffering from a serious shortage of kidney dialysis filters that is putting the lives of 450 Palestinians, including 15 children, at risk.
This problem is also related to the lack of coordination between the Ramallah-based health ministry, which is responsible for ordering and sending medical supplies to Gaza, and its counterpart in Gaza.
Renal dialysis filters are essential for the cleansing of kidneys, and patients normally require two to three dialysis rounds a week.
“Kidney dialysis is a cycle. If you take out one element, the treatment cycle is stopped, and that compromises everything,” Dr Al Aqila said.
Last week, around 960 filters were sent from the West Bank to Gaza, an emergency measure that allowed dialysis rounds to continue, but the problem will remain unless thousands are shipped to the enclave soon. The same problem has existed for other medical disposables and medicines throughout this year, imposing an ongoing medical crisis in Gaza.
Oxfam partner the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to intervene urgently and get the health ministry in Ramallah to supply the blood filters to Gaza immediately. According to PCHR, there are currently 178 types of medicines and 190 types of medical consumables that are out of stock at Gaza‟s health facilities.
“PCHR warned of the impact of the shortage of medicines on the lives of patients in the Gaza Strip, but the crisis has not improved and it has re-emerged with the shortage of medicines necessary for renal diseases,” the centre said, adding that long-term coordination between the two governments was now an urgent priority, especially under the current atmosphere of political reconciliation.
Text and picture: Karl Schembri/Oxfam