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2009: MSF reorganises its activities in the Gaza Strip
During the war, three expatriates (project manager, nurse and doctor) and 60 Palestinian health workers struggled to aid the population, despite violent fighting and the dangers involved in travelling through the area.
The MSF teams were in daily contact with hospitals in the Gaza Strip and organised regular donations of medications and emergency kits for treating wounds and burns.
Our post-operative care clinic in Gaza City admitted and treated between 20 and 50 patients every day. Because of the violence and insecurity, wounded and ill people remained at home, as it was impossible to reach hospitals and health care facilities. Only emergency cases were taken to the hospital.
To compensate for this lack of access to care, MSF’s Palestinian doctors and nurses, supplied with emergency kits, conducted home visits in their immediate neighborhoods, providing initial emergency care to 275 patients.
Doctors among the 25,000 persons displaced by bombing, who had taken refuge in schools and other gathering sites, were provided with medical supplies and medicines so that they could also treat those around them.
Just after the ceasefire, an emergency surgical team and 21 tons of supplies and equipment sent by air freight (including two inflatable hospital tents) were finally able to enter Gaza City.
In response to the situation after the war, and to address shortages and meet needs where possible, MSF increased the volume of its activities, doubled the number of staff and expanded the scope of operations to the entire Gaza Strip.
From January to June 2009:
MSF medical teams provided post-operative care to 757 patients (70% of whom were wounded by shells and 18 percent by bullets) at MSF clinics in Beit Lahya, Khan Younis and Gaza. Simultaneously, seven mobile teams provided the same post-operative treatment and physical therapy on a daily basis in patients' homes. MSF’s specialised teams performed 600 wound dressings and held approximately 950 rehabilitation sessions every week.
Two operating rooms with an 11-bed capacity were set up inside the inflatable hospital tents in the center of Gaza City. MSF medical teams performed 303 specialised surgeries, including the removal of external fixators, skin grafts, wound debridement and post burn contracture release, and held approximately 1,300 medical consultations.
Mental health care services were also strengthened, specifically for aid workers who were particularly exposed during the war. A specialised five-person team of psychologists worked to ease post-traumatic stress. Over a six-month period, 393 patients were treated and 5,831 consultations were held.
MSF has been working in the Gaza Strip since 2000 and employs 126 Palestinians, who work with eight international volunteers.
For more information on the war in Gaza and MSF’s work, see our special dossier, "Direct from Gaza."