By Nour Abu Aisha
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) - Public health authorities in the blockaded Gaza Strip on Thursday warned against the possible spread of disease due to the ongoing breakdown of the local health sector.
On the same day, a small demonstration was held outside Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Medical Complex to demand that the Ramallah-based Palestinian government pay overdue salaries to Health Ministry employees.
“The humanitarian situation [in Gaza] constitutes an environmental disaster due to the accumulation of uncollected waste at local hospitals and health centers,” Khalil al-Daqran, head of the Gazan nurses' syndicate, said.
Speaking at a press conference held on the sidelines of Thursday’s demonstration, al-Daqran warned: “This situation can lead to the outbreak of epidemics that could spread to the West Bank and elsewhere in the region.”
Recent months have seen a dramatic breakdown of Gaza’s public health sector, due largely to funding shortfalls caused in part by ongoing animosity between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.
Gaza’s Health Ministry has already announced the closure of several local clinics and hospitals due to a chronic shortage of fuel needed to power emergency generators.
Al-Daqran appealed to international aid agencies to “intervene urgently to save Gaza’s health sector before it’s too late”.
The Israeli-occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip have remained politically and administratively divided since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the strip from forces loyal to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.