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ICRC sending help to Gaza medical system "overwhelmed" by recent violence
Last Updated: 2018-06-01 07:07 | Xinhua
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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Thursday that it is sending two surgical teams, medical specialists and supplies to the struggling medical systems in the Gaza Strip, which has been overwhelmed by recent violence.

"Thousands of Gaza residents are confronting new, long-term medical needs that the health care system simply can't handle," said Robert Mardini, ICRC's regional director of operations for the Near and Middle East, at a press conference here.

Since protests and associated violence flared on March 30, more than 13,000 Palestinians have been wounded, including more than 3,600 by live ammunition, some multiple times, for an estimated total of nearly 5,400 limb injuries, the ICRC said.

These six months of assistance will help Gaza's health system respond to longer-term needs after thousands of residents were recently wounded in violence during protests launched against Israeli occupation and its blockade of the strip on Israel's coast.

The ICRC said it is sending in additional surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists, drugs, and equipment.

"This infusion of medical expertise and material will expedite the long road to recovery and relieve a stressed and overburdened health care system," said Maldini while noting, "The whole of Gaza is a sinking ship."

He said, "Systems are at the brink of collapse, you have no electricity, you have a suffocating economy, you have unemployment rates skyrocketing. The sanitation system is not able to cope with the sewage and therefore raw sewage is being pumped into the sea."

And he added that "people have nothing to look forward to", feeling trapped by Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The ICRC said its priority is to help gunshot wound victims.

Some 1,350 people with complex cases will need three to five operations each, a total of more than 4,000 surgeries, half of which will be carried out by the ICRC teams.

Such a caseload would overwhelm any health system.

In Gaza, the situation is worsened by chronic shortages of drugs, equipment, and electricity.

The ICRC initiative will include the opening of a 50-bed surgical unit and is part of a 5.3 million U.S. dollars budget extension for Gaza.

The ICRC surgical teams and medical experts will be based in a wing of Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest hospital.

Other hospitals in Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent Society will also benefit.

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