New York: The UN and its partnering NGOs have warned that the continuing blockade of Gaza Strip has jeopardised the health of 1.4 million Palestinians, and called for the immediate opening of Gaza crossing.
"The continuing closure of the Gaza Strip is undermining the functioning of the health care system and putting at risk the health of 1.4 million people in Gaza," said Max Gaylard, the UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory.
"It is causing on-going deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. It is hampering the provision of medical supplies and the training of health staff and it is preventing patients with serious medical conditions getting timely specialised treatment outside Gaza," he added.
Operation Cast Lead, carried out last year by Israeli forces, damaged 15 of Gaza's 27 hospitals, and 43 of its 110 primary health care facilities were either damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.
UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told journalists here that hospitals and primary care facilities, damaged during the fighting, have not been rebuilt because construction materials are not allowed into Gaza.
Certain types of medical equipment, such as X-ray and electronic devices, are very difficult to bring in, while health professionals in Gaza have been cut off from outside world, the UN said.
"Since 2000, very few doctors, nurses or technicians have been able to leave the Strip for training necessary to update their clinical skills or to learn about new medical technology. This is severely undermining their ability to provide quality health care," a statement issued by UN agencies said.
Many specialised treatments like complex heart surgery and certain types of cancer, are not available in Gaza and patients have to go outside for treatment.
"Many patients have had the applications for exit permits denied or delayed by the Israeli Authorities and have missed their appointments. Some have died while waiting for referral," the UN added.
First Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010, 14:43