Israel blockade causing increase in Gaza cancer rates: health ministry

Israel blockade causing increase in Gaza cancer rates: health ministry
Gaza saw an increased rate of 12.5 percent in cancer patients in 2021, in the besieged territory which continues to suffer from an Israeli blockade - leading to a shortage of treatment services.
2 min read
05 February, 2023
The Gaza health ministry has appealed to the international community to urge Israel to end its blockade on the besieged enclave [Getty]

Health officials in Gaza have accused Israel’s policies of increasing the cancer rate among Palestinians, as well as denying patients the right to access treatment overseas.

They say that the Gaza health system “suffers from major gaps in health care for cancer patients, including early detection, diagnostic services, radiological and chemotherapy treatment".

Khaled Thabet, head of the ministry’s oncology department in the besieged territory told the Turkish Anadolu agency that Tel Aviv also "deprives 40 percent of cancer patients in Gaza of their right to medical treatment abroad".

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He stressed that Gazan cancer patients already "face multiple challenges", as Israel implements restrictions that prevent the entry of medical supplies.

Another official, Abdul Latif Al-Hajj, added that Palestinian hospitals are faced with major shortages in radiotherapy and atomic scanning services, which he blamed on the Israeli blockade.

The health ministry’s statement comes as World Cancer Day was marked on February 4, when it was revealed that cancer is the third biggest cause of death among Palestinians.

According to the health ministry, 5,320 individuals were diagnosed with cancer in the Palestinian territories by 2021, including 1,952 patients in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The 2021 figure saw a 12.5 percent increase in comparison with the previous year.

Al-Hajj appealed to the international community on Sunday to enhance treatment services for cancer patients in Gaza, which has suffered from an Israeli-imposed blockade since 2007.

He also urged human rights groups to "assume their responsibilities and pressure Israel to allow the movement of patients to hospitals in Jerusalem and the West Bank for treatment".

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights also called for a halt on Israeli restrictions on healthcare needed for Palestinians, according to the report.

Gaza, which has reeled from an illegal blockade ongoing for more than 15 years, suffers from high rates of food insecurity, unsuitable drinking water, inadequate medical services and high rates of unemployment.