The World Health Organisation has warned that Gaza is on the “precipice of major disease outbreaks” due to overcrowding and lack of basic necessities. Of the 36 hospitals in Gaza, 22 are out of action, leaving 800,000 people crammed into overcrowded schools and other “collective centers”. Skin infections, including scabies, jaundice, and diarrhea, have been found. There is one toilet for several hundred people and “open defecation,” regional emergency director Richard Brennan told Sky News.
The schools were designed to accommodate displaced people but their populations are six to eight times what they were intended for. Others are living in tents with each person having only one to three liters of clean water per day when the accepted minimum in a humanitarian crisis is seven liters. This has led to chest infections, respiratory infections and cases of jaundice which give concern for hepatitis.
The WHO is currently working with authorities to trace the parents of 31 premature babies evacuated from al-Shifa hospital and taken to southern Gaza. Many of the babies are very low in weight and all have serious infections. Mr. Brennan said that the next few weeks are going to be “very tough indeed” as many families are subsisting on one meal a day.
Mr. Brennan described it as “one of the few good news stories of the war so far” that some premature babies will travel on to Egypt in the next day or two depending on their condition but added: “We don’t know where any of the parents are, how many of them are orphans.”