Palestinians appeal for help to save cancer patients in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) : Palestinian authorities on Sunday called on the international community and human rights organizations to redouble efforts to enhance diagnostic and treatment services for cancer patients in the blockaded territory.

“Around 9,000 patients in Gaza are waiting for the necessary treatment,” Health Ministry official Abdul Latif Al-Hajj told a press conference in Gaza City.

He said the Gaza health system “suffers from major gaps in health care for cancer patients, including early detection, diagnostic services, radiological and chemotherapy treatment.”

The Palestinian official appealed to the international community and human rights institutions “to assume their responsibilities and pressure Israel to allow the movement of patients to hospitals in Jerusalem and the West Bank for treatment.”

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the number of cancer deaths in Gaza rose by 12.5 percent in 2021.

The ministry blames lack of radiotherapy and atomic scanning due to the Israeli ban for the rise in the number of cancer deaths in the enclave.

The ministry said 6,000 cancer patients were admitted to the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital in 2022, expecting the number to rise by 2,000 in 2023.

The hospital’s medical director, Mohamed Abu Nada, said all hospitals in Gaza lack radiotherapy due to the years-long Israeli blockade.

“Chemotherapy is available at the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital at a simple rate of up to 50%, while patients face serious conditions due to lack of this treatment,” he added.

Many patients in Gaza depend on hospitals in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel to receive treatment and perform operations that are not available in the strip.

Iyad Abu Jalala, a cancer patient, still awaits an Israeli permit to receive medical attention at hospitals in the West Bank.

Speaking to Anadolu, Abu Jalala said he “applied for this permit five times, and each time he was informed that his request was being studied.”

He appealed for exempting “the health sector from the Israeli blockade and for providing treatment and facilitating patients’ access to hospitals abroad.”

Home to nearly 2.3 million people, the Gaza Strip has been reeling under a years-long Israeli blockade since 2007, badly affecting livelihood in the seaside territory.