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Red Cross donates stockpiled medicine to Gaza hospitals

June 14, 2011 6:15 P.M. (Updated: June 15, 2011 7:31 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Red Cross in Gaza announced Tuesday that it had donated all of the medicine in its local warehouses to public Gaza hospitals as the health sector remained in a shortage crisis.

ICRC spokesman Omar Fery said warehouse managers were coordinating shipments with hospitals across the sector as they await a second shipment of medicines from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah.

He said the move was not out of the ordinary, citing a similar move during Israel's 2008-9 offensive on the Gaza Strip as hospitals ran short of supplies.

On Sunday, 19 trucks of medicine were transferred into the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, with Palestinian Authority Health Minister Fathi Abu Moghli saying the transfer was an emergency move.

The Ramallah ministry said the shipment would include over 130 types of medical and surgical items, worth more than 2.5 million shekels ($732,280), as well as 81 different medicines valued at six million shekels ($1.76 million).

Ministry spokesman Omar An-Naser said medicine would also be delivered to Gaza through Egypt via the Rafah crossing, following coordination between the Ramallah health minister and Palestine's ambassador to Egypt Barakat Al-Farra.

An-Naser said Egypt's union of doctors had provided 19 types of vital medications to be sent to Gaza hospitals.

On Monday, Gaza government pharmacy director Muneer Al-Barsh said medical services were on the verge of collapse due to severe shortages of medicine and medical equipment.

At a press conference in Cairo, Al-Barsh said most hospitals had run out of basic medicines and supplies.

Meanwhile, Ash-Shifa Hospital director Medhat Abbas said hospitals and primary care centers would have to close if medicine did not arrive soon, adding that many hospitals had been forced to cancel surgeries due to the crisis.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights warned Monday of a "catastrophic deterioration" in the health conditions of Gaza residents, especially those with chronic diseases who could not access medication.

PCHR said the Gaza Strip had not received any medical supplies since February, and that shortages had led to a "devastating crisis" over the past two weeks.
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