An HI rehab staffer cleans the wound of a man who was injured in Gaza in 2018
Gaza emergency

The risk of disability

Last week, more than 610 people were injured during demonstrations on the border between Israel and Gaza. A total of 250 people had to be hospitalized. Since March, nearly 15,000 people have been injured in the demonstrations. Bruno Leclercq, HI’s Director in Palestine, describes the disastrous humanitarian situation in the field.

The importance of nursing care

Most of the patients we treat have gunshot wounds to the femur or tibia. They are often young and suffer multiple and complex fractures. Nursing care – regular wound cleaning, changing bandages, and so on – is essential in order to avoid infections and complications. By definition, a gunshot wound is a contaminated injury and the risk of infection is high.

Risk of disability

Many casualties will also need more than one operation. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 4,000 surgical operations will be needed in the coming weeks. Some organizations believe that one-third of lower limb injuries risk complications that may lead to amputation.

A weakened health system

Nearly 8,000 people have been hospitalized since last March. Hospitals in Gaza have had to cope with large numbers of casualties arriving in a very short period of time. And the health system have already been weakened by shortages and restrictions, particularly medical equipment and consumables. Under these conditions, dealing with such an emergency, including surgical operations and post-operative care, is a real challenge.

Postponed care for other patients is one of the serious domino effects of this crisis: many are not receiving care because hospitals and health centers are focusing on people injured in the demonstrations.

Social cost of injuries

Many casualties come from modest backgrounds. They are bedridden and unable to move around. Some contributed to the income of families who now have to look after a dependent who has a temporary disability.

HI’s beefing up its teams

We plan to set up two more mobile teams, in addition to the ten teams that exist already. These mobile teams are include rehabilitation professionals, psychologists, and social workers. They will provide rehabilitation care and psychological support to casualties and their families.

We also plan to increase our stocks of medical kits – rubber gloves, bandages, and so on – and mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers. The needs are immense.