Main Gaza Hospital shuts for first time in 60 years

Nathan Schmidt / Bethlehem

Al-Shifa Hospital, the main healthcare facility in the Gaza Strip, closed its doors on Tuesday for the first time since its establishment in 1964 due to an ongoing strike by cleaning staff, Quds Press reported.

Director of Al-Shifa Hospital, Medhat Abbas, condemned the ongoing strike which has resulted in accumulated medical waste prohibiting work and creating an unsafe environment for both doctors and their patients.

‘The healthcare services stopped after our staff were unable to carry out their jobs due to the accumulation of medical garbage at Al-Shifa and the other medical centres and clinics across the Gaza Strip,’ Abbas said.

‘If the disastrous health situation in Gaza is not resolved soon, hundreds of patients will die.’

Consequently, doctors at the Al-Shifa also went on strike, decrying the build-up of medical waste at the hospital.

200 scheduled procedures at Al-Shifa were postponed on Tuesday for fear of contamination.

Cleaning staff in medical centres all over Gaza are on strike, demanding withheld pay that has been outstanding for almost 5 months.

According to the Ministry of Health, 832 are yet to receive they salary.

On Sunday, the Ministry warned that the cleaner’s strike would shudder 40 surgery rooms, 11 childbirth units, effecting 110 patients in intensive care unit, 113 infants in delivery units and 702 patients undergoing renal failure treatment.

‘The stoppage of the cleaning companies’ work is a direct threat to the health of the neighbourhood and patients of the hospitals in Gaza due to (the storage of) medical wastage,” says a statement issued by the Ministry of Health.