The World Health Organization warned – today, Thursday – of the danger of the rapid spread of infectious diseases in the Gaza Strip, in light of the continuing escalation of the Israeli aggression against the Strip since last October 7.
The global organization said in a statement that the continued high number of deaths and infections in Gaza, the severe overcrowding in shelters, and the disruption of the health system and water and sanitation networks are doubling the rates of the spread of epidemics, and some worrying trends have already begun to emerge.
The World Health Organization statement explained that the fuel shortage led to the closure of water desalination plants, which greatly increased the risk of the spread of bacterial infections – such as diarrhea – by drinking contaminated water. The fuel shortage also led to the disruption of all solid waste collection work, which created an environment conducive to the spread. The rapid spread of insects and rodents that can transmit diseases or be their mediators.
The statement explained that this situation is worrying, especially for the approximately 1.5 million displaced people throughout Gaza, especially those living in overcrowded shelters that do not have opportunities to use personal hygiene facilities and safe water, which increases the risk of transmission of infectious diseases.
The statement indicated that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the World Health Organization, and the Ministry of Health in Gaza are working to expand a flexible system to monitor diseases in many of these shelters and health facilities, and this system has monitored current disease trends that raise great concern.
The statement stated that with the cessation of routine vaccination work and the shortage of medicines needed to treat communicable diseases, the risk of diseases spreading rapidly increases, and this risk is exacerbated because the coverage of the disease surveillance system – including the capabilities of early detection and response to diseases – is incomplete, and there is limited access to the Internet and the operation of the telephone network. They further limit our ability to detect potential outbreaks early and respond effectively.