Gaza medical shortages sees patients' wounds infected with flies and worms

Gaza medical shortages sees patients' wounds infected with flies and worms
Sixteen out of 34 hospitals in Gaza are now out of action, with patients' wounds becoming infected with flies and worms due to severe shortages of essential medicines and clean water.
3 min read
07 November, 2023
Paramedics transport a wounded person to the Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital in Gaza [Getty]

Hospitals in the Gaza Strip face an unprecedented crisis with 16 out of 34 hospitals now out of action, according to the latest report from Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

Severe shortage of essential medicines and clean water has seen patients' wounds become infected with flies and worms, the group has warned.

"The situation is disastrous: we have zero capacity, we have 153 patients at the ER, all the beds are occupied [and] we have no space for patients to go after they undergo surgery. We have a health disaster," Dr. Marwan Abusada, Head of Surgery at Al-Shifa Hospital, told i.

"We have a type of worms, called white flies, covering the wounds after surgery [and] appear after one day. Most injuries and surgeries have no follow-ups as the medical teams cannot cope with the influx of injuries every hour."

On a normal day, Shifa Hospital has a capacity of 210 beds, but now it is overwhelmed with more than 800 patients in need of admission.

Medical teams are working under stressful circumstances to provide essential services such as kidney dialysis, urgent catheterisation, and neonatal incubators. They say they can only deliver the bare minimum, as the situation is so catastrophic.

The crisis has been amplified by the destruction of nearby neighbourhoods, including schools housing displaced people.

Israeli airstrikes on the nearby Abu Assi UNRWA school had all the injuries and dead bodies were transferred to Shifa Hospital.

The health disaster in Gaza is not limited to capacity issues with 150 medical personnel lost to Israeli airstrikes.

Water shortages is also a huge issue. Abusada explained that hospital departments only receive salty water that cannot be used for hygiene or drinking, in addition to food shortages.

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Israel has also bombed the main generator at Wafa Hospital leading to further misery for patients and medical staff.

"Israel made sure to cut us off from all vital lifelines like water, electricity, fuel, medication, and food. The fuel left can no longer serve the hospital; we only use it for lifeline purposes," Abusada stated.

Similar accounts were reported by workers in Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital.

"The situation is beyond catastrophic, I don't even know where to start explaining," Dr. Tayseer Hassan, a surgeon at the Indonesian Hospital, explained. 

"We are seeing horrific injuries, and the majority are children. The type of injuries we are seeing is not something a human mind can accept or tolerate.

"Honestly, patients are not receiving minimum care; we have no team capacity, no room capacity, no fuel, no water, and no medications, and no hygiene. So many injuries and diseases are missed."

The flies and worms situation also faced workers at the Indonesian Hospital.

"We do surgeries while the injuries are covered with flies and we have worms coming out of wounds, even after we do the surgery," said Dr. Hassan.

"We are doing surgeries with worms and flies. Nothing is clean, nothing is sterile, imagine the horrific consequences.

"Let me tell you something horrible, that breaks my heart. When the mass casualties arrive at the ER, and the type of injury that needs a ventilator, we leave it to die. As we can't deal with it."

Medical workers and NGOs dealing with Gaza's hospitals have called for urgent international intervention, as Israel continues to indiscriminately bomb the territory and deprive the civilian population of basic needs to survive.