Healthcare under the embargo

Following the Israeli military's December 2008 "Cast Lead" offensive and with a growing number of domestic accidents*, many Gaza residents suffer from disabling wounds that require reconstructive surgery, also known as non-emergency or revision surgery, after their initial medical-surgical treatment. 

Seven-year old Zainab is receiving treatment for extensive burns suffered when a candle fell on her mattress as she slept © Isabelle Merny /MSF
It is difficult to obtain such specialized care in the Gaza Strip today. Patients must wait for months to obtain permission to leave and undergo surgery in a third country (including Jordan, Israel and Egypt).

As a result of the Israeli embargo and restrictions on travel and movement, Gazan doctors and surgeons are also unable to leave the Territory to obtain training and/or refresher courses abroad. 

MSF specialised reconstructive surgery programme

In July 2010, MSF signed an agreement with the Gaza health authorities and opened a reconstructive surgery program. Several times a year, MSF teams composed of surgeons, operating room nurses and anesthetists conduct ad hoc missions, during which they work closely with surgeons and hospital teams from Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Easing suffering

Often patients have complicated injuries or severe burns that affect the normal use of their limbs. After their surgery, they receive rehabilitation treatment in one of MSF's two clinics in Gaza. The objective is to ease their pain, help them to recover adequate mobility and, to the extent possible, reduce the social and psychological impacts of their wounds.

 In Gaza last year, MSF teams performed 180 surgeries.  MSF teams continue to work in Gaza, supporting and training Palestinian medics.

*Because fuel supplies in the Gaza Strip are limited, its only electrical power plant has slowed operation. Power interruptions occur daily.  As a result, the population makes do with the resources at hand - generators, contraband gas canisters, candles and oil lamps.  Their use can result in serious domestic accidents.