LeadGaza's Unprecedented Health Crisis: Oxfam Urges Immediate Action

Gaza’s Unprecedented Health Crisis: Oxfam Urges Immediate Action

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Oxfam has sounded the alarm on an unprecedented health crisis unfolding in Gaza. It has warned of a looming outbreak of deadly infectious diseases, such as cholera. The dire situation is a result of a complete breakdown in water and sanitation services.

All five of Gaza’s wastewater treatment plants and most of its 65 sewage pumping stations have been shut down. This have led to the discharge of untreated sewage into the sea and the piling up of solid waste in the streets in some areas.

The depletion of clean water has now forced some residents to resort to drinking from farm wells. According to the UN Water and Sanitation cluster, which includes Oxfam, a mere three liters of water per person per day are available in Gaza. This is a far cry from the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 50-100 liters per day to meet basic health needs.
 
Private vendors operating small water desalination or purification plants have become the primary water suppliers. But, the cost of buying water has surged five-fold.
 
Amitabh Behar, Oxfam International Interim Executive Director, said: “There is no power, no food and now no water in Gaza. It risks becoming a breeding ground for cholera and other diseases. The situation for civilians is already intolerable. Our staff are telling us that in some cases, there are up to 70 people crammed into a single room. Humanitarian aid must be allowed into Gaza now.”
 
Despite the extraordinary challenges, two local civil society organizations in Gaza have collaborated on a plan to provide hygiene kits and cash for food to those crammed into shelters. Oxfam is providing funds for kits containing essentials like soaps, shampoo, sanitary pads, and toothpaste, as well as cash for food for 800 households. Given the overcrowding in temporary shelters, this aid will reach many more people.
 
A spokesperson from one of Oxfam’s partners, Palestine Medical Relief Society, she said: “We’ve reached a point where midwives are having to assist in delivering babies over the phone, as there’s no security even in childbirth. Our plan is to deliver aid as soon as roads open up. We are just waiting for any sign to provide people in Gaza. Also, We’re in constant contact with those on the ground, awaiting any chance to help”
 
Furthermore, Gaza with its 1.8 million people, is now grappling with food insecurity and power outages affecting cooking and bread production. The inability of refrigerators to function adds to the crisis. Fishing and farming have come to a standstill, further exacerbating the crisis.

Also Read: WHO Calls for Access to Health and Humanitarian Aid in Israel-Palestine Conflict
 
Oxfam is urgently calling for safe access for humanitarian aid into Gaza and coordinated distribution to those in dire need. The chaotic circumstances faced by displaced people and the challenges at border crossings raise grave concerns for their future.

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