Denied treatment six times: Iman’s struggle with breast cancer

Meet 44-year-old Iman*. She lives in Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza with her five children. Iman has been diagnosed with breast cancer and was told she needs to receive targeted (biological) therapy every three weeks which can help her fight the disease. She needs a course of Herceptin, a treatment which is not available in Gaza.

She has been relentlessly trying to obtain an Israeli permit to leave Gaza so she can get the medical treatment she needs to save her life. She has been rejected six times. As a woman living under Israel’s blockade and military occupation, the odds of surviving breast cancer are unfairly stacked against her. The consequences of not receiving a permit can be grave.

Cases like Iman's are common. Freedom of movement for Palestinian cancer patients, particularly those in Gaza, is critically important so that they can receive the healthcare treatment and medicines they need to have a good chance at beating their cancer and surviving.

"I was denied access to breast cancer treatment six times."

- Iman, Gaza

Despite this, Israel imposes barriers to access to treatment outside Gaza. In 2019, Israel denied 9% of permit applications (2,164) for patients from Gaza to travel to East Jerusalem and Israel for healthcare, including those needing cancer treatment, and delayed 26% of applications (6,364) past the appointment date. Patients from the West Bank referred to East Jerusalem and Israel for medical treatment also face these barriers, with 19% of exit permit applications denied or delayed past the date of appointment by Israel.1

Time and again Palestinians are denied access to life-saving treatments because they live in Gaza.

Help us get life-saving medicines into Gaza

As patients must apply for a permit each time they need to exit Gaza, permit denials and delays can obstruct women with breast cancer from attending the full cycle of appointments for radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and aftercare, which undermines the effectiveness of their treatment.

These restrictions can be life-threatening. Cancer patients seeking to attend chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy outside of Gaza between 2015 and 2017, whose permits were initially delayed or denied, were nearly 50% (1.45 times) more likely to die in subsequent years.

"This shortage of medication [in Gaza] has affected 49% of medical services for oncology and hematology patients"

Cancer departments face severe shortages of essential drugs and supplies, as well as a lack of equipment. So far this year, the central drug store in Gaza has reported nearly half (44%) of all essential drugs in Gaza being at ‘zero stock’ – this means there is less than a month’s supply available or none at all. This shortage affects 49% of oncology and hematology medicines.

This is why we are urgently raising money to provide women with life-saving cancer medication and treatment and increase their chances of survival. Your donation can help us pay for medicines like Fluorouracil and Oxaliplatin to treat various types of cancer in patients and replenish medicines. A gift of support from you will have a direct impact on a woman with breast cancer and ensure she has the best possible chance of beating the disease. Please consider making a donation today, your support means so much to women like Iman. Thank you.

Support our oncology project

*Name Changed to protect identity
http://www.emro.who.int/images/stories/palestine/documents/Feb_2020_Monthly.pdf?ua=1
https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/WHO_Right_to_health_2018_Web-final.pdf

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