Thousands of cancer patients in the Gaza Strip are at risk of losing their lives as they struggle to access adequate medical care amid a severe shortage of medicines and a tight Israeli blockade.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza held a press conference on Monday to highlight the plight of more than 9,000 cancer patients who suffer from a lack of diagnostic and treatment capabilities, with the increasing number of cases among the population of the Strip.
The Director General of the Turkish Hospital and Gaza Cancer Center, Dr. Subhi Skaik, said that the incidence of cancer in Gaza is 93.1% among every 100,000 citizens, while this rate was 60% in 2000. He added that the statistics of the World Health Organization indicate that this rate will double by 2040, pointing to the high death rate among cancer patients to 12.5%.
Dr. Skaik stressed that cancer patients suffer from a severe shortage of medicine, the lack of radiotherapy, the lack of nuclear medicine capabilities to diagnose cancer patients, and the lack of some important analyses to diagnose it. He called on the free people of the world and the concerned parties to intervene urgently to save the lives of cancer patients in Gaza.
The Director General of Pharmacy at the Ministry of Health, Ashraf Abu Mahadi, explained that 45% of the medicines needed for oncology patients were not available during the past 6 months, which led to the patients not receiving the necessary treatment protocol for them. He emphasized the importance of therapeutic medicines provided to patients, especially cancer patients, stressing that the lack of medicine negatively affects the provision of service to patients.
Abu Mahadi stated that more than half of the patients did not receive the integrated treatment service, as oncology patients follow an integrated treatment regimen of several medications that complement each other, and when one of them is missing, the required treatment for the patient is not complete. He called on all institutions, companies and donors to provide the necessary and adequate treatment protocol for oncology patients, in order to prevent the worsening of their health condition and a relapse for them.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, said that more than 40% of the medical referrals granted to cancer patients are rejected by Israel, which doubles the pain of patients and causes the death of a number of them. He pointed out that Israel’s continuous siege on Gaza for the 17th year in a row aims to undermine the health and humanitarian services system in Gaza, which has caused the death of patients due to lack of medicines or the unjust siege measures that Israel is carrying out against patients and the Palestinian people.