By Nour Abu Aisha
GAZA CITY, Palestine
The Gaza Strip’s chronic electricity shortage, which causes regular power outages of up to 20 hours per day, has brought the local health sector to the brink of collapse, according to local medical sources.
Following the recent suspension of health services at the government-run Beit Hanoun Hospital, the Mohammed al-Durra Hospital for Children has also been forced to scale back its services by 60 percent.
"Last week, we were told that no fuel would be delivered to the children’s hospital because the government’s fuel stocks had almost run out,” hospital director Majid Hamada told Anadolu Agency.
He added: “This has forced us to adopt a raft of austerity measures."
For the last ten days in a row, Hamada said, the children’s hospital has had to rely on a single generator to maintain its operations.
“On Wednesday, we used our last liter of fuel to power our generator,” he lamented.
As a result, Hamada explained, the hospital had been forced to close its intensive care unit (ICU) and send its young patients to other hospitals in Gaza.
“The ICU had been treating three sick children, two of whom were connected to artificial respirators,” he said. “All of them had to be moved.”
The Gaza Strip boasts a total of 13 ministry-run hospitals and 54 primary health care centers that account for roughly 95 percent of all health services in the coastal enclave.
Gaza, which continues to groan under a decade-long Israeli/Egyptian siege, has struggled with severe electricity shortages since 2006.
Although the territory requires an estimated 600 megawatts of electricity, it currently receives only 120 megawatts from Israel and another 32 megawatts from Egypt.
Gaza's sole functioning power plant, meanwhile, is only able to generate 60 megawatts of electricity, according to the Palestinian Energy Authority.
The recent depletion of fuel has led to the shutdown of emergency generators at three hospitals (including Beit Hanoun and the children’s hospital) and at seven healthcare centers across the strip, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
“We have practically run out of fuel at this point,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
“It will only last another couple of days,” he added, predicting that all the strip’s fuel supplies would run out by the end of February.
“Without fuel to power the generators,” al-Qidra warned, “the Gaza Strip’s two million inhabitants will be completely deprived of all medical services."