– Despite constant social and educational challenges faced by the people in Gaza, limited healthcare remains to be one of the largest factors hindering the quality of life and standard of living
– More than 40% of the essential drug items in the essential drug list and more than 50% of medical consumables were out of stock before and during the crisis
– Over 200 spare parts were required for repair and the scheduled maintenance of medical equipment for a six month period; valuing $590,000 according to the Ministry of Health (MoH)
– Over 7,700 individuals have been injured in the blockade over the last 5 years; 27% were women and children and during the 8 day crisis; the MoH reported 1399 injuries, 28% female and 37% (516) children, one third of whom were under 5 years old
– Out of the 1,399 injuries; 483 casualties had to undergo surgical operations, 65 had to be admitted to Intensive Care Unit, 42 were referred to Egypt, 4 to Tunisia and 3 to Turkey for advance treatment. Eight cases had surgical amputation of one limb.
– Delays and denials in the issuing of permits for Gaza children seeking medical care in Israel have been putting lives at risk. About one out of every 20 children (174 of about 3,949) referred abroad in 2011 for treatment missed their appointment due to delays in issuing the travel permit. Three permits were denied permission. Three children died while waiting for permission to travel (2011)
The above facts are only a snapshot of the reality of life in Gaza. The children of Gaza are continuously fighting for their future, and the partnership between the PCRF and Cycling4Gaza aims to provide the support system for them to do so.
Cycling4Gaza has partnered with The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund in an effort to address some of the obstacles people face in Gaza when it comes to medical care. PCRF has developed the REACH Gaza (Reaching Every Affected Child in Gaza) project to identify every child in need of medical attention throughout Gaza and create a database of their condition, medical history and the care required. Subsequently, children will be provided with the necessary treatment through sponsoring treatment locally, visiting international volunteer missions and sending children abroad for care. The REACH Gaza project requires approximately USD 1.5 million annually and positively impacts the lives of over 1,500 children a year.
REACH Gaza aims to improve and strengthen the currently underdeveloped health-care system in Gaza, particularly when it comes to providing surgery for children in need of medical care. In addition to causing a chronic shortage of medical equipment and supplies in Gaza, the 6 year long siege on the Gaza Strip has prevented children and their families from travelling freely into the West Bank and abroad in order to receive the urgent care and treatment they need.
The REACH Gaza project was supported through 2013 and 2014 cycles.
The REACH Gaza project:
1. Sponsored 40 volunteer international medical missions from the Americas, Europe and Australia to perform life changing and lifesaving surgeries on children in need of vital medical care.
2. Provided essential medical care for 1527 children.
3. Performed 10 cardiac missions, 7 orthopedic missions and 5 plastic surgery missions.
4. Provided 922 professional wheelchairs for disabled children.
5. Supported the medical treatment of 21 children who were required to travel outside Palestine for care.
6. Developed and implemented an intricate database containing thousands of documented medical cases of the children in need of treatment in Gaza
Project Objective: to identify and provide vital health care to all the children in need living in Gaza.
Over 1,500 children a year can be supported through the implementation of this project. The project aims to alleviate part the burden of the current healthcare situation in Gaza by providing accessible and necessary medical treatment to each child in need.
The Individual Missions:
– 10 Cardiac Surgery Missions
These missions treated 114 children, some as young as 3 months old, who were born with congenital heart defects. Funds covered airfare, accommodations, meals and local transportation for volunteer surgeons and their teams.
– 7 Orthopedic Missions
These missions treated 96 children born with congenital orthopedic deformities which can affect their mobility and ability to attend school and participate in normal social activities.
– 5 Plastic Surgery Missions
These missions treat 118 children suffering from a wide range of conditions, from cleft palettes to severe scarring.
– Wheelchair Missions
Two shipments of wheelchairs were sent to Gaza, providing 922 children with a professionally fitted wheelchair. The funds covered the cost of the chairs as well as travel expenses for a team of certified physical therapists who ensure that each child receives the right wheelchair for their specific needs.
In addition to these specialties, the funds provided travel expenses for 15 medical missions in the areas of Dentistry, General Surgery, Hand Surgery, Neurology, Oncology, Spine Surgery and Urology. These missions treated 277 children.