NEARLY a third of all patients referred for urgent medical care outside the Gaza Strip are being barred from leaving.
The number of exit permits granted is now at it’s lowest level for six years, with the exception of last summer during the war.
New figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show the Israeli and Egyptian governments stopped three out of every ten people who had medical referrals from leaving Gaza.
Of those, 104 were children and ten were elderly patients over 60 years old.
And no medical aid or medical delegations were allowed entry into Gaza at all during the entire month of September.
The main referral specialties needed were in oncology, orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, paediatrics, and heart catheterization.
Most of the patients had been offered care in Palestinian -run hospitals, with 157 referred to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, 12 in Israel and 3 in Jordan.
The WHO said in a statement yesterday (Wednesday) that of 1,883 patients who applied to leave in September, 527 were rejected.
Another 363 patients , including 104 children, received no response to their applications
And permits were formally denied to 72 of the patients, including five children and ten elderly patients over 60 years old.
One 23 year old patient was even arrested by Israeli security at Erez, despite being approved for a permit. He had been referred for treatment for an eye injury following a road accident.
He is still in custody and is due in court on October 20.
In August, the WHO reported an “unprecedented” shortage of health staff in Gaza, with many nurses and doctors not being paid for over a year.
In addition, they reported a chronic shortage of drugs and medical disposables, and said staff were working in poor conditions, without sufficient support, were under-trained, and facing shortages of supplies and electricity.
Most of the patients needed Israeli permits, with only 141 patients (8%) seeking approval to exit through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
But Rafah was open for only 5 days last month, with only a few exceptions for religious pilgrims making the trip to Mecca.
Th figures show a stark change since the July 2013 closure, when around 4,000 Gaza civilians a month used the Rafah crossing for medical access.
Family members including parents, who wished to accompany patients, also made 1,920 applications for permits to Israel’s authorities.
Of these, only 66.5% were approved, 25.8% were pending and 7.7% were denied.
The top referral destinations were:
- Makassed Hospital (22.27%) and Augusta Victoria Hospital (12.16%) in East Jerusalem
- An Najah National University Hospital (8.58%) in Nablus
- Al-Haia center for heart catheterization in Gaza (4.38%)
- Nasser Institute in Cairo (4.09%)