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Scant medicine supplies endanger Gaza patients' lives
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08:01, August 24, 2007

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Ellian Dabba, a nephrotic aged only 19, was lying on a bed at home in Gaza but not in hospital to receive the vital dialysis treatment when reporter visited him.

Looks pale and exhausted, the wretched young man who was paradoxically studying at the Gaza's Faculty of Medicines before falling ill hardly helped his tears from rolling down when he was asked about his illness.

"My health has rapidly deteriorated since I stopped to get a cocktail of hormones, vitamins and medicines that help me survive without working kidneys," Ellian trembled out in a great effort to control his feeling.

Thanks to Israel's isolation of the Gaza Strip following Hamas' violent takeover of the enclave in mid-June, Ellian has not received the dialysis treatment for two months.

The treatment which costs some 2,000 NIS (445 U.S. dollars) each time, a prohibitive price for Ellian's family but used to be paid by the government, has to be halted due to the strict isolation.

Ellian's 47-year-old mother, Nihad, looked at his son in great melancholy. She told the reporter that his son's level of hemoglobin, the blood component that carries oxygen throughout the body, has plunged, and he is too weak to leave home except for receiving treatment.

"I'm too young to die. I hope to have kids and a family like others. I don't want to die," the young man's desire for life was definite but was diluted by the brutal reality.

Israel held Hamas responsible for the closure of the Gaza crossings, while the Islamic movement blamed it on Israel.

But when the political powers are wrestling each other, the Palestinians living in Gaza have to bear the consequences of the political struggle.

Mo'awya Hasasnin, director of Emergency and Ambulances in the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, warned that the Strip is running out of medicines amid the closure.

"The stores of the Ministry are suffering from severe lack of medicine, equipment and gas," said Hasasnin, stressing "About 30 percent of the medicines are at zero now."

Gaza's already strained health-care system is facing an all- time crisis due to Israel's closure of the cargo crossings and the EU's suspension of the necessary aid after Hamas ousted its rival Fatah and thus took control of the Gaza Strip.

"We're trying to limit the operating list and people are suffering, even dying, because of these shortages," said Hasanin, who termed the current medicines shortage as the biggest since the starting of the second Intifada six years ago.

Sa'id al Masri, chief oncology nurse in the cancer unit in Shifa Hospital had to send increasing numbers of leukemia patient's home without chemotherapy because of the drug shortage.

"The shelves of the hospital's pharmacy are almost empty of the necessary medicines. There is a severe lack in equipment. I think we are already in a crisis and supplies are truly needed," he said.

Many patients are aware of the current circumstance but have no ways out. Um Essam, a 52-year-old patient of breast cancer, had nothing else to say but "I'm dying soon, I can feel it."

Her husband, who is willing to pay double for her wife's medicine, looks more anxiety than herself.

"She got well after receiving surgery in Egypt, but is getting worse now due to the shortage of the needed special medicine. She even cannot travel abroad to receive treatment again as all crossings are closed," said the gloomy husband.

"People should not be victims of politics and should not be punished for their political choice," the husband said, obviously referring to Hamas' coming to power through the elections in 2006.

The Palestinian Center of Al Mizan for Human Rights also affirmed in a report issued last week the truth that Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip do not have access to safe or effective medicine.

It said that out of 468 standard types of medicine, 32 percent is missing in the Gaza enclave.

Source: Xinhua

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