Staff at badly damaged Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital struggling to care for patients

KUALA LUMPUR: Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the Gaza Strip, is grappling with critical challenges as a result of extensive Israeli bombings.

Doctors Without Borders' (MSF) head of medical activities in Gaza, Aurélie Godard, said the hospital was badly damaged and barely functioning.

"In the corridors, the false ceilings are ripped open, and we have seen IV bags (to provide patients with drugs intravenously) hanging directly on the walls of the hospital, for lack of anything better.

"The medical teams on site managed to get the emergency room up and running, but it is largely occupied by patients who have been admitted. The rest of the hospital is filled with displaced people seeking safety.

"The health personnel receive and triage the injured and stabilise them, but they are then a little stuck, because there is a severe shortage of hospital beds," she said in a statement.

She shared an experience of a visit to the hospital in a supply convoy organised by the United Nations on Jan 22.

She said the convoy's objective was to deliver 19,000 litres of fuel to Al-Shifa for electricity generators.

"We managed to pass the checkpoint which separates north and south Gaza.

"Immediately afterwards, our two cars and the fuel truck were surrounded by a crowd of young people, who demanded water and food.

"They were disappointed that we were transporting only fuel. We had a lot of difficulty getting through this very dense crowd of hungry people."

The fuel would meet the hospital's needs for barely a week.

The operating rooms set up for urgent surgeries faced challenges due to a lack of resources, including an empty blood bank.

Godard added that the team at the hospital, made up of volunteers, including two from MSF, managed to set up three operating rooms.

"We understand medical staff want to reopen the intensive care unit. Right now, they have no way to properly monitor the patients they operate on.

"Staff at Al-Shifa are struggling to care for patients because the needs are huge.

"There are a lot of people in the hospital and all around, made up mainly of those who are displaced," she said.

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