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MSF extends surgical programs to second Gaza hospital

Oct. 9, 2013 6:13 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 10, 2013 10:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Médecins Sans Frontières has extended its reconstructive plastic surgery program to al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip, the second project of its kind in the coastal territory.

In July 2010, the international aid and humanitarian organization opened a plastic surgery unit at the Nasser hospital in collaboration with local Gaza health authorities.

"We hope that our work at Al-Shifa Hospital will increase the number of patients receiving treatment and reduce the Ministry of Health's waiting list", said Tommaso Fabbri, MSF Head of Mission in Jerusalem.

The program provides treatment to victims of trauma, domestic accidents, burns and other injuries and aims to help patients regain optimum use of their limbs, a statement said.

Al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals are the only facilities providing this kind of treatment in the Gaza Strip, together with a few private clinics and surgeons.

MSF staff travel to the Gaza Strip several times a year to work with the teams at both hospitals, which specialize in plastic surgery and specialist hand surgery.

Israel's blockade on Gaza has resulted in over 450 patients having to wait from 12 to 18 months for their operations, MSF said.

Between January and September 2013, MSF teams performed some 126 procedures, 63 percent of which were on children.

Following operations, patients are referred to specialist MSF staff, and in 2012 patients benefited from over 7,000 dressing and physiotherapy sessions.

Israel imposed restrictions on trade to Gaza in 2001 following the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising and tightened them further in 2007 after Hamas took over in the coastal enclave adjacent to Egypt, which also enforces a blockade.
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