Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “Gaza’s health system is on its knees and collapsing”, adding that the impact of the raging Israel-Hamas war on health is “catastrophic.” The top official made the remarks on Sunday after the WHO Executive Board adopted a resolution urging for prompt and unobstructed humanitarian aid access to the Gaza Strip, reports Xinhua news agency. At the request of 17 member states, the Executive Board convened a special session at the WHO headquarters in Geneva to discuss the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.
According to the WHO, only 14 hospitals out of the original 36 are partially functional, including two in the north of the Wadi Gaza and 12 in the south. While condemning the attacks by Hamas on Israel and deploring the loss of over 1,200 lives, the WHO chief said that about 18,000 are reported to have died in Gaza, including 7,000 children. More than 49,230 injuries have been reported and 1.9 million people are displaced, “almost the entire population of the Gaza Strip”, he underlined. So far, at least 286 health workers have been killed and 57 ambulances were hit and damaged amid the fierce hostilities.
By international law, healthcare facilities are designated for protection during conflicts. However, Tedros said that since the war erupted on October 7, the WHO has verified more than 449 attacks on healthcare facilities in Gaza and the West Bank, and 60 attacks on healthcare facilities in Israel. The WHO chief emphasised that a ceasefire is crucial for safeguarding and enhancing the health of the people in Gaza.