"Life in Gaza is not easy. In some ways it is impossible."

Wafa Kanan, MAP’s Project Officer in Gaza, describes MAP’s emergency response. She agrees with the description of the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development in Palestine, Jamie McGoldrick, that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “a crisis on top of a catastrophe”.

"Responding to the mass casualties in Gaza has been a hard and incredibly busy time for our team. I am proud that we were one of the first responders, providing essential drugs and medical disposables needed by the emergency services as well as limb reconstruction equipment. We have supported several medical missions from the UK who have worked alongside local medics to treat patients with complex limb injuries. I am very proud to be supporting MAP’s emergency response, everybody in the Gaza office is.

"In Gaza, the health system suffers from major fuel and drug shortages. This is an issue which started many years ago but now has reached an unbearable level. In 2018, we reached almost 50% zero stock levels in essential drugs, meaning that less than one month’s supply remained on shelves. Many patients cannot receive the medication or treatment they need, including those with kidney failure and cancer. This poses a direct threat to their lives. I had a meeting with the Director of the Central Drug Store and he explained that, for chemotherapy to work, patients need a treatment protocol that could include three to four types of medications. But recently at least one or two of these drugs have been out of stock, so their treatment will not work.

"Shortages in drugs mean that more patients need to be referred outside of Gaza for treatment. But it is not easy to get a permit from the Israeli authorities. In 2017, just 54% of exit permits for patients were approved and the rest of patients were left with no hope. Access to healthcare is every patient’s right, but many people in Gaza are being denied this.

"Working in the medical sector can be challenging, observing all this suffering each time. I am constantly praying that my friends and family do not fall sick because I fear they will not receive the needed treatment, and so, I believe what we are doing, supporting Gaza’s health care system, is really crucial. I couldn’t imagine such a dire situation being ignored or left with no support.

"Life in Gaza is not easy. In some ways it is impossible. It is very hard to live in a place where you cannot freely move. We are living in the same small place all the time, the same area. Often in the office when we have a holiday, for example Eid, we cannot go anywhere, we just move from our house to our relative’s house. In another place, you’d be able to travel, you could go outside. Children in Gaza do not know what it means to travel. They have never experienced 24 hours of electricity. I am so sad to have my children in such a place. During the day we can be fine, but at night something could happen suddenly and there could be bombing and airstrikes and we would fear for our lives, again. So, knowing how to be a mother in Gaza is not easy. I cannot protect my children, all I can do is take them in my arms and pray."

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of our supporter magazine, Witness.

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