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Analyzing the Capacity of the Healthcare System in Gaza to Address Gaza Residents Needs

Analyzing the Capacity of the Healthcare System in Gaza to Address Gaza Residents Needs

Elhaija, A., Ravi, H.

Affiliation: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

Published: April 25, 2024


Abstract: The present humanitarian crisis in Gaza has resulted in the devastation of medical facilities and health infrastructure. As of January 2024, the World Health Organization reports that 78% of primary care clinics funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA, 2024) have ceased operations, and hospitals’ bed capacity throughout Gaza has decreased by more than 59% (World Health Organization, 2024). Direct military attacks on medical facilities as well as the blockade of medical supplies and humanitarian aid pose the largest obstacles to greater healthcare attainment in Gaza (IRC, 2024). Over the course of the conflict, there has been a surge in the number of people suffering from war injuries, which now totals 71,377 (Shurafa, 2024). The rise in the number of patients who require access to medical services in combination with the limited hospital functionality in the Gaza Strip is putting a massive strain on their already limited healthcare system; before the over 6 month long duration of direct military attacks by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on hospitals in Gaza, data indicated a maximum ratio of 1.55 hospital beds per 1000 individuals across the entire region of the Gaza Strip, while the ratio in the US is around 2.35 hospital beds per 1000 individuals (Taylor, 2024). The already poor living conditions of the demographic–most of whom are housed in temporary structures in severe weather conditions with a lack of access to food and water for sustenance or hygiene–signify a need for a more robust healthcare system. However, triage conditions prioritize treatment of the most severe war injuries, which has forced hospitals to abandon previously established vaccination projects and disease surveillance programs, leaving the remaining population to suffer from preventable diseases such as chickenpox, upper respiratory infections, scabies, and Hepatitis A (Soni, 2024). Individuals who do receive medical care face higher levels of infection due to a lack of adequate sanitation, waste management measures, and basic hygiene supplies (The Economist, 2024). 

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