Gaza is on the brink of a major disease outbreak, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The organization has expressed concern over the large number of people crammed into overcrowded schools and other “collective centers” in the region.
There are currently 36 hospitals in Gaza, but 22 of them are out of order. This has resulted in a shortage of clean water and sanitation facilities, leading to an increase in cases of skin infections such as scabies, jaundice, and diarrhea. In some areas, there is only one toilet for several hundred people, and “open defecation” is common.
The situation is particularly dire for children in Gaza. Many schools were designed to accommodate displaced persons but their population is six to eight times larger than expected. This has led to chest infections and respiratory infections among children, while cases of jaundice have raised concerns about hepatitis.
WHO officials are currently working with local authorities to trace the parents of 31 premature babies evacuated from Al Shifa hospital and taken to southern Gaza. These babies are very low birth weight and all have serious infections. WHO regional emergency director Richard Brennan said that the next few weeks will be “really, really tough.” Many families in Gaza live on one meal a day due to food shortages caused by ongoing conflict in the region.