During a briefing given to U.N. Geneva correspondents on Thursday, the WHO said that just nine out of 36 health facilities in Gaza are operating, all partially and all in the south.
“There are no functional hospitals left in the north,” Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative in WHO’s office for the West Bank and Gaza, said in opening remarks. “Al Ahli was the last one but is now minimally functioning, i.e., still treating patients but not admitting new ones, along with Al-Shifa, Al Awda and Al Sahaba hospitals. These hospitals are still sheltering thousands of displaced people.”
At Al Ahil, there are just 10 staff members remaining – all junior doctors and nurses – who are providing basic first aid and pain management, according to WHO. About 80 injured patients are currently sheltering in a church on the hospital grounds and in its orthopedic sedition, many of whom have been waiting for surgery or have undergone operations but risk infection due to a lack of antibiotics and other drugs, the WHO said.
The WHO and other U.N. partners said they recently delivered supplies, including medicine, IV fluids, surgical supplies, wound treatment and birthing supplies, to Al Ahli Arab hospital and Al Shifa hospital in northern Gaza.
The groups had also planned to deliver fuel, but were forced to abandon those plans due to lack of safety guarantees and clearance issues, according to the WHO.
“WHO had visited Al Ahli Arab hospital over a week ago and it already looked like utter chaos, completely congested and a disaster zone but it was still partly operational and there were still operating theatres and two health specialists were constantly managing surgeries,” Peeperkorn said. “Now, Al Ahli is a shell of a hospital.”
It was previously the only hospital in northern Gaza providing surgery. The theaters have since closed due to a lack of supplies, fuel, power and workers.
“WHO will keep striving to supply health facilities in northern Gaza. But without fuel, staff, and other essential needs, medicines won’t make a difference and all patients will die slowly and painfully,” Peeperkorn said at the briefing.