Amid major shortage, PA orders cancer drugs be sent to Gaza
Forty-five of 60 chemotherapy medications needed at a hospital in the Gaza Strip were out of stock as of Monday, according to a medical official in the coastal enclave
Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel
After health officials in the Gaza Strip reported major shortages of chemotherapy medications, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority ordered that drugs needed to treat cancer be sent to the Strip, the official PA news site WAFA reported on Monday.
Health officials in Gaza reported that 700 cancer patients, including 200 children, being treated at Gaza City’s Abdel al-Aziz al-Rantisi Hospital did not receive chemotherapy on Monday because of a shortage in medications needed to administer it.
Forty-five of 60 chemotherapy drugs needed at the Rantisi Hospital were out of stock as of Monday morning, according to Muhammed Abu Silmiya, the director of the medical facility.
“Following the instructions of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas and [PA] Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, [PA] Health Minister Jawad Awad ordered that medications needed to treat cancer be sent to the ministry’s storage facilities in the Gaza Strip,” the WAFA report stated.
The report did not provide details on the exact medications or the amount of them that the PA intends to dispatch to Gaza. It also did not say when the cancer patients were expected to have access to the drugs.
The PA has long provided pharmacies in the Strip with a number of medications. International parties also sometimes send drugs to pharmacies there.
For more than a year, the PA has imposed a series of sanctions, some of which have since been lifted, on the Gaza Strip to pressure Hamas to cede power. Hamas, a terror group, forcibly took over the territory in 2007.
For several months in 2017, the PA largely halted major shipments of medications and medical equipment into Gaza, but resumed them in November 2017.
However, the renewed shipments have not sufficed to provide all of Rantisi Hospital’s needs for chemotherapy medications, Abu Silmiya said in an interview on Monday.
The Rantisi Hospital is one of two medical centers that provides chemotherapy in Gaza. The European Hospital in Khan Younis also offers the treatment.
Seventy percent of Gaza’s cancer patients receive chemotherapy at the Rantisi Hospital, whereas 30% obtain it at the European Hospital, according to Abu Silmiya.
Cancer patients in Gaza needing radiation therapy, however, must do so in Israel or another country in the region as the Strip’s hospitals currently do not have infrastructure to provide the treatment.