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PCHR: Gaza leukemia patients without medicine for 11 months

Nov. 19, 2013 3:00 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 21, 2013 9:30 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Leukemia patients in the Gaza Strip have been without medicine for more than 11 months leaving them in grave danger of complications and death, according to a report released Sunday by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

The Center called upon Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas to "immediately intervene in order to save these patients by instructing the Ministry of Health in Ramallah to provide their required medications promptly and regularly."

The report also highlighted the plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis, who have been deprived of their necessary medications for over two years.

According to the report, Leukemia patients in the Gaza Strip have been without medicine since Dec. 2012, when the required "Glivec" pills ran out completely from the Blood Department Pharmacy at Shifa Hospital, the Gaza Strip's largest medical center.

The Center stressed that "not taking the medicine would cause health complications and put their lives at risk," adding that "it should be noted that this medicine can be obtained only through the Ministry of Health in Ramallah and cannot be bought from medical stores or pharmacies in the Gaza Strip."

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has previously pleaded with the Palestinian Authority to address the situation in April, but Ramallah authorities subsequently sent an inadequate amount of the necessary treatment. According to the report, the Ministry of Health sent a one-time shipment of 810 tablets, enough to last patients' about half of a month.

The report also stressed that 80 patients in Gaza suffer from a lack of medicine to treat Rheumatoid arthritis, pointing out that doctors stressed that patients they were at risk for "serious complications in the liver and kidneys."

The Gaza Strip is currently in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, as Fuel shortages have caused power plants and water pumps to shut down in recent days. This has cut off access to basic necessities for 1.7 million residents.

The lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a 7-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

Until July of this year, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.
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