UN workers delivering aid to Gaza hospital describe ‘carnage’ in an overcrowded emergency department

According to the team, patients with trauma injuries were stitched up on the floor, limited to no pain treatment is available in the hospital, and the emergency room is so full that workers have to be careful not to step on the patients on the floor.

Al-Shifa Hospital, formerly the main and largest referral hospital in Gaza, is now barely functioning: the operating theaters and other major services are not functioning due to lack of fuel, oxygen, specialized medical staff and supplies. The hospital is only able to provide basic trauma stabilization and has no blood for transfusion.

A handful of doctors and nurses and around 70 volunteers work under what WHO staff described as “incredibly challenging circumstances” at a hospital “in need of resuscitation.”

In a announcement released Saturday, the WHO said it is committed to strengthening Al-Shifa Hospital in the coming weeks so it can resume at least basic functionality, provide critically needed life-saving services and serve “a beleaguered people caught in a cycle of death, destruction, hunger and disease”.

There is an urgent need for significantly additional specialized medical, nursing and support staff, including emergency medical teams, and basic humanitarian needs are not being met: tens of thousands of displaced people are sheltering in hospital, experiencing severe shortages of food and clean water.

Currently, Al-Ahli Arab Hospital remains the only partially functional hospital in northern Gaza, along with three minimally functional hospitals – Al-Shifa, Al Awda and Al Sahaba Medical Complex – down from 24 before the conflict. The WHO has serious concerns about the situation at the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, which has reportedly been at the center of a military operation.

The UN staff at Al-Shifa Hospital participated in a joint UN mission consisting of staff from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). The team delivered medicine and surgical supplies, orthopedic surgical equipment and anesthesia materials and medicines to the hospital.

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