• Rafah

  • Friday, February 16, 2024 at 6:12 AM
    Last Update : Friday, February 23, 2024 at 6:17 AM

Medicine Shortage Threatens the Lives of Cancer Patients in Gaza

(AWP) - With the daily bombing of Gaza continuing, the lives of thousands of cancer patients in the Strip are in danger amidst the depletion of medical supplies and a healthcare system that is on the verge of collapse.

Among these patients is Mazen Sehweil, who fled Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza with his family to a displacement camp in the city of Rafah, along the borders with Egypt in the south of the Strip.

Sehweil said of his ongoing ordeal, “Regarding my health condition, I suffer from a malignant tumour in the colon and another condition in the oesophagus that may turn into a malignant tumour at any moment. I was receiving cancer treatment in Egypt before the war, but here there is no treatment or hospitals. Al-Shifa Hospital was destroyed, as was the Turkish Friendship Hospital, and there is only one hospital left [Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital] in Rafah. There are no treatments, no medications, or anything else available. Patients with kidney failure and cancer are the ones who suffer the most here.”

He continued, “I was in Egypt at the Palestine Hospital receiving treatment and had taken chemotherapy doses three days before the war began. Then the war broke out and they destroyed the Turkish [Friendship] Hospital and the Rantissi Hospital where we were taking the doses. I am unable to do anything and must continue my treatment. I have ten people who are depending on me and God. Where will my children go without me?”

The displaced Palestinian called on authorities and organisations to look into his case and help him resume treatment in Egypt, given his inability to find or afford treatment amid the ongoing war.
“I appeal to everyone to stand with us and help me complete my treatment in the Arab Republic of Egypt. I have a prescription here for 800 [Israeli] shekels that I am not able to afford,” he said, adding, “We are unable to provide daily food for these children. My family consists of ten people, and my brother’s family is seven people. He has an injured foot and needs a bone graft. Our situation is below zero.”

Sehweil expressed his fear if Israel were to carry out a land invasion of Rafah, saying, “If the tanks arrive here and the [Israelis] invade Rafah, it means they have condemned me to death. There are no medicines or treatment. Where do we go?”

The Palestinian news agency (WAFA) quoted a report by the international non-government organisation “Action Aid” as saying that the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, the only medical facility specialising in cancer treatment in Gaza, has been out of service since November after running out of fuel and suffering extensive damage due to Israeli airstrikes.

The international organisation also stated that over half of Gaza's hospitals have been forced to close, with the 14 remaining hospitals partially operating at more than 200% of their capacity, amid a severe shortage of medical supplies, fuel, water, food, as well as staff.

Action Aid stressed that this reality is having a major impact on cancer patients, noting that after the Turkish Friendship Hospital was targeted, the doctors moved to Al-Najjar Hospital, which is a small medical centre facing a lack of medicines and equipment. The situation has worsened during the war, making things unbearable for cancer patients who are facing tragic outcomes in the absence of the necessary special care, medicines, treatments and special diets.