The Palestinian health system is facing meltdown as a result of international aid cuts and the curfew imposed by Israel on the Palestinian Authority, part of its effort to boycott the Hamas government.
The latest humanitarian alarm was sounded on Tuesday in a report by the Physicians for Human Rights organization – a non-profit organization whose goal is to safeguard health-related rights of people living in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The report said the Palestinian Health Ministry is supplying only 64 percent of the total services to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. PA hospitals are dealing with 77 percent of emergency treatments and 76 percent of medical treatments for women.
The Palestinian medical care system also lacks the means to treat life threatening illnesses like cancer, the report said. Cancer patients are deprived of proper diagnosis and operations to remove cancer tumors in the eye and the uterus.
Cardiology is the most hit branch of medicine hit by the financial crisis in the PA as breast operations, heart operations for children, angioplasties and other cardiological procedures are unavailable.
The report said, however, that a large majority of Palestinian children are immunized in Israel. Dozens of Palestinian children suffering from various illnesses were treat at the Sheba Medical Center last year, costing the Palestinian Authority NIS 3 million (USD 666,666). Last year the PA paid NIS 30 million (USD 6.6 million) in hospital bills to Israeli medical centers.
The report warned that the collapse of the PA Health Ministry could spell disaster for many Palestinian patients.
The organization noted that the transfer of the ministry's responsibility to the World Health Organization and non-profit humanitarian organizations is impossible in the short term.
"In the short term, Israel will bear direct responsibly for the repercussions of the collapse of the social system in general and the health system in particular," the organization said.
The body said that under the Oslo agreement Israel is responsible for the Palestinian health system, as it control water supplies to Palestinian areas and has the power to limit the freedom of movement of the Palestinians.
The report said the should the Palestinian health system collapse due to Israel's decision to halt the transfer of customs revenues to the PA and pressuring foreign donors to curb aid, the Jewish state will have to fund health care costs of 3.5 million Palestinians.
Why is my cancer-ridden son a security threat?
The latest sufferer of Israel's policies is cancer patient Ahmad Hinawi, 26, of Gaza. Hinawi was diagnosed with throat cancer half a year ago and has been receiving chemotherapy treatment at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital until he was banned entry to Israel this month.
His father Akram told Ynet: "At the beginning the Israelis were very courteous, at the IDF District Coordination Office (DCO) and at Ichilov they treated us with utmost respect and we thanked them from our hearts for the treatment which kept my son alive.
A coupe of weeks ago the DCO reused Ahmad entry to Israel.
"Has my son become a security threat overnight as to refuse him entry to Israel? We are victims of Israel policy to put pressure on Hamas. After all we are people in need of medical treatment," Akram said.
In yet another sign of the worsening humanitarian situation in the territories, the Shifa hospital in Gaza reported that three dialysis patients died this week due to drug shortages.
Dr. Ibrahim al-Habash, the hospital's manager, told Ynet that the situation will worsen if the aid boycott remains in place. "There isn't enough equipment and there is no money to buy medicine. As a result the curfew pressure on our hospital is mounting as a lot of patients have been referred for external treatment," he said.