WHO Reports Alarming Conditions in Gaza's Healthcare Facilities

World Health Organization (WHO) officials visited Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza on Monday, confronting a grim reality.

by Faruk Imamovic
WHO Reports Alarming Conditions in Gaza's Healthcare Facilities
© Getty Images News/Ahmad Hasaballah

World Health Organization (WHO) officials visited Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza on Monday, confronting a grim reality. The facility, overwhelmed with casualties from recent airstrikes, epitomizes the acute humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.

The visit came in response to distressing reports from the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, where numerous casualties were attributed to airstrikes.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking on Monday, relayed the stark situation at Al-Aqsa Hospital.

The facility had received approximately 100 casualties, overwhelming its capacity.

Tedros shared some of the heart-wrenching stories heard by the WHO team, including that of a child who lost their entire family in the camp strike and a nurse who suffered a similar tragic fate.

The Toll of Conflict: Alarming Reports from the Ground

Sean Casey, a WHO emergency medical teams coordinator, shared a particularly harrowing account. In a video posted by Tedros, Casey recounted the death of a 9-year-old boy who succumbed to brain damage caused by shrapnel from a building explosion.

The child's death highlighted the hospital's limitations in treating complex cases, with staff only able to sedate him to ease his suffering in his final moments. Despite operating theaters working around the clock, patients were still facing long waits for treatment.

The situation in Al-Maghazi is a stark reminder of the conflict's toll on civilians. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza reported that at least 70 people were killed in Al-Maghazi, with overall casualties in the central Gaza areas of Bureij, Nuseirat, and Al Maghazi reaching at least 250 dead and 500 injured in the past 24 hours.

However, these numbers are difficult to independently verify due to limited access and ongoing hostilities.

In response to inquiries about the deaths, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated, “In response to Hamas' barbaric attacks, the IDF is operating to dismantle Hamas military and administrative capabilities”.

Broader Impact Across Gaza

The WHO and its humanitarian partners extended their visits to several hospitals across Gaza over the weekend.

Among these was Al-Shifa hospital in the north. Tedros described the conditions at Al-Shifa as a "microcosm of the nightmare playing out across Gaza," with drastic shortages in medicines, food, power, and water, exacerbating the peril faced by the population.

Amid these harrowing conditions, Israel has focused considerable attention on Gaza’s hospitals since the onset of its offensive in October. Israel claims that Hamas uses medical facilities for military purposes and has pointed to what it says are underground Hamas tunnels below them.

However, these claims have not been independently verified due to the challenges in accessing reliable information amid the fighting.