Health experts are raising concerns that the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is increasing the risk of a public health crisis. In Gaza, civilians are facing difficulties in accessing clean water, food, sanitation, and medical supplies. The scarcity of these essential resources has led to a rise in the outbreak of deadly diseases, as reported by various humanitarian and health organizations.
The conflict has forced many civilians into overcrowded shelters, exacerbating the spread of diseases. Experts fear that the health and living conditions for Gaza’s civilians will continue to deteriorate.
The situation escalated following an attack launched by Hamas on Israeli civilians on October 7, leading to Israeli retaliation in Gaza. Reports indicate significant casualties on both sides, with thousands of injuries and deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that around 1.5 million people in Gaza have been displaced due to the conflict.
Dr. Darien Sutton, an emergency medicine physician, highlighted to ABC News the dual threats faced by Gaza’s civilians: violence from the ongoing conflict and the rampant spread of diseases on the ground.
— Guardian Weekly (@guardianweekly) November 17, 2023
The WHO has reported an increase in cases of diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, chickenpox, skin rashes, scabies, and lice in Gaza since the conflict began in October.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that about 95% of Gaza residents now lack access to safe drinking water, raising the threat of waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid. The WHO emphasizes the urgency of proper treatment, noting that people can succumb to cholera in less than a day without it.
The conflict has also strained the already limited healthcare resources in Gaza. The lack of functioning hospitals, proper sanitation, and medical supplies is hampering efforts to combat the spread of deadly diseases.
The situation is further complicated by restricted access at the Egypt-Gaza border crossings. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, noted that before the October 7 attack, around 500 trucks entered Gaza daily. Since the conflict began, the number has drastically reduced, with only 217 trucks entering in total. The WHO is advocating for the opening of borders to allow more aid trucks to enter Gaza daily.