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Gaza doctor: Medical sector on verge of collapse

Jan. 16, 2011 6:10 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 17, 2011 11:19 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza's health sector is on the verge of collapse due to a lack of medicine, a Gaza hospital director said Sunday.

Medhat Abbas, general director of the Ash-Shifa medical complex in Gaza City, said medical care must be separated from political disputes.

Gaza's Health Ministry has blamed its counterpart in Ramallah for a shortage of medicine in the Strip.

Bassem Naim, health minister in the Hamas-led government, said Thursday that Gaza was lacking about 40 percent of basic medicines and accused the Palestinian Authority of withholding key stocks.

PA Health Minister Fathi Abu Mughli immediately rejected the charge, and said the shortage was the result of "mismanagement" by the Hamas health ministry which he said had sacked 1,600 ministry of health employees and replaced them with people "with no experience in dealing with or storing medicine."

Gaza medical director Medhat Abbas said hundreds of patients were at risk due to the shortage of medicines, particularly those needing cancer treatment, dialysis and insulin.

The doctor's comments were made during a rally to commemorate the second anniversary of Israel's offensive on the coastal enclave, Operation Cast Lead.

Medical crews and ambulances joined crowds outside the hospital in Gaza City, and marched to the Ash-Shawa cultural center.

Abbas said doctors examined samples taken from the bodies of those killed in the 3-week war and found evidence that Israeli forces used internationally prohibited weapons against Gaza's residents.

He condemned the silence of the international community over what he described as Israeli war crimes.

The medical director urged all delegations that visited Gaza after the offensive to submit their reports to international organizations.

He also called on Israel to lift its siege of the Strip and to allow medicine, medical equipment and spare parts to enter, as well as construction materials to rebuild medical wards and operating rooms.

AFP contributed to this report
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