UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Adequate Health Services in Gaza Amid Ongoing Conflict

UN expert calls for urgent action to address Gaza's decimated healthcare system, warning of devastating impact on civilians' right to health and well-being amid ongoing conflict.

Muthana Al-Najjar
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UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Adequate Health Services in Gaza Amid Ongoing Conflict

UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Adequate Health Services in Gaza Amid Ongoing Conflict

Tlaleng Mofokeng, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, has called for the provision of adequate health services in Gaza to address the needs of Palestinians locally, emphasizing that medical evacuations are not a permanent solution. Mofokeng's statement comes as the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which began in October 2023, has decimated the territory's healthcare system.

According to Mofokeng, the health system in Gaza has been "completely obliterated" and the right to health has been "decimated at every level." Since the start of the Israeli military offensive on October 7, 2023, more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 76,000 wounded. The conflict has also caused widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, with numerous hospitals severely damaged or destroyed.

Why this matters: The alarming circumstances in Gaza highlight the devastating impact of armed conflict on the health and well-being of civilian populations. The international community must take urgent action to protect the right to health and ensure access to essential medical services for those affected by the ongoing crisis.

Mofokeng reported that at least 350 healthcare workers have been killed and 520 others injured in Gaza since the conflict began. She also noted that there have been at least 435 attacks on health facilities or personnel across the territory in the past six months. The destruction of healthcare infrastructure and the targeting of medical workers have severely hindered the ability to provide essential care to those in need.

The UN expert warned that the medical evacuation rate in Gaza is "very low" at 47%, as many healthcare facilities are "completely dysfunctional." She stressed that reporting and collecting health data is a significant challenge due to the destruction of civilian infrastructure. "Gaza should not be evacuating people for support, and the health services should be able to adequately respond to the needs of the people locally," Mofokeng stated, emphasizing that medical evacuations are "just another layer of support but not a permanent solution."

Mofokeng also expressed concern about the long-term mental health consequences of the conflict, particularly for children. She warned that there is a risk of mental illnesses manifesting among the people of Gaza in the years to come due to the ongoing war. According to UNICEF, an estimated 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their families, and nearly all children in the region require mental health support.

The UN Special Rapporteur accused Israel of waging a "war on the right to health" in Gaza, stating that

Key Takeaways

  • UN expert calls for adequate health services in Gaza, not just evacuations.
  • Gaza's healthcare system "completely obliterated" with over 34,000 Palestinians killed.
  • At least 350 healthcare workers killed and 520 injured since Oct 2023 conflict.
  • Medical evacuation rate is low at 47% due to dysfunctional healthcare facilities.
  • UN expert warns of long-term mental health consequences, especially for children.