MAP sends largest limb reconstruction surgery mission to Gaza since COVID-19 outbreak

Last month, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and our partner IDEALs sent our largest limb reconstruction mission to Gaza since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. A team of six visiting surgeons from the UK worked alongside their local counterparts in Gaza to treat 57 patients with a variety of complex limb injuries.

Four orthopaedic surgeons, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon and a plastic surgeon conducted assessments and operations from 27 to 31 March, treating patients at the limb reconstruction unit at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

Over a quarter of the patients seen suffered from severe gunshot wounds, largely caused by the systematic use of excessive force by Israeli forces during the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations in Gaza in 2018 and 2019. Several years on, the long-term impact of the injuries they sustained is still having a palpable impact on their lives.

“It’s a huge challenge here in Gaza because of the volume and complexities of the cases,” said Deepa Bose, an orthopaedic surgeon with IDEALS. “But I was delighted to see that over the years the local teams have improved their capabilities to the extent that they are now taking on very complex cases, very successfully, on their own.”

For more than six years, MAP and IDEALS have been supporting Palestinian surgeons in Gaza to treat people during emergencies and to build their skills and capacity towards the formation of efficient, sustainable and locally-led limb reconstruction services.

In 2019, the service became centralised at a dedicated limb reconstruction unit at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis. Although the clinical outcomes of the unit continue to be promising, there are limited local specialist training opportunities for surgeons and more surgeons and other health professionals need to be involved in the unit’s work to ensure the sustainability of the services.

The MAP and IDEALS medical missions are therefore critical to continue developing the skills and knowledge of Palestinian surgeons and trainees, and to ensure a more coordinated training programme is put into practice.

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