[December, 2013] The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concerns over critical shortages in medical supplies and electricity for Gaza health services — shortages which are putting Palestinian patients’ lives directly at risk, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) has reported.In a recent press release, WHO notes that 30% of medicines and 50% of medical disposables are out of stock in Gaza’s central drug store. This means that patients are, too often, not receiving the appropriate kind or dosage of medicine. And, with daily electric outages averaging at 14 hours, in addition to the high cost of diesel fuel, generators supply only the most pressing of needs (e.g., intensive care units).

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel, with Egyptian support, since 2006, causing surges in the price of diesel. In addition, the Egyptian grid which supplies power to Rafah and southern Khan Younis, in the south, was disconnected Saturday. The Gaza Strip Power Authority was unable to provide electricity to these areas, as a result.

WHO reports that the accumulation of shortages in basic supplies for the Gaza Strip is leading to rapid deterioration in the social determinants of health for the population of 1.7 million Palestinians, and that it is straining the health system’s ability to provide a good standard of health care.

The chronically ill, newborns, transplant recipients, the elderly, persons with disabilities, emergency patients, and the poor are most vulnerable. Also at risk are the mental and public health of the whole population, due to increasing stress and declining services.

With 60, 000 births a year, Gaza’s health care needs are a growing concern.