Right now, thousands of cancer patients in Gaza find themselves denied the possibility of treatment and recovery. There are currently 10,000 people who need cancer therapy in Gaza, yet the healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. After enduring four months of relentless bombardment, medical supplies are critically low, making it nearly impossible for these patients to access the vital medicines and treatments they need.
Gaza’s only hospital that specialized in treating cancer patients, The Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, has been non-operational since November 1st after it ran out of fuel and sustained heavy damage from airstrikes. In all, over half of Gaza’s hospitals have been forced to close, leaving the remaining operating at an overwhelming 200% capacity, grappling with critical shortages in medical supplies, fuel, water, food, and specialized staff.
“I applied for help to receive treatment abroad. It’s been three months since I applied. I keep hearing the same things: treatment is for children and the injured only. They say I will have my chance for treatment later, but what about my rights as a human? I am also ill, and my condition can worsen and lead to my death at any moment.”
Dua’a, 36, is a mother of eight who has bone cancer and acute seronegative RA, an auto-immune disease. She said:
“I received biological therapy in the form of shots for my cancer from the West Bank. And I was denied by the Israeli [authorities] to travel abroad for my treatment. I was only sent one course of treatment every six months. Then the war began, and things went downhill. I couldn’t receive treatment anymore, not even painkillers for my aching bones and joints. Nothing to ease my pain.
I filed a new paper to receive treatment abroad. It’s been two months now to no avail. I hope someone hears me: officials, the health department, management, anyone involved. I hope they know that we are sick and isolated from the world. I implore them to help us receive our treatment abroad, to get better and live our lives.
We now have to take shelter in schools in this freezing cold. We are sick, and we shouldn’t be exposed to these freezing temperatures; especially bone cancer patients. We need warmth and proper nutrition. We need eggs and milk, and we need treatment. None of that is available here for us. Our need for treatment is increasing, the health situation here is unbearable. It became worse than before; I cannot stand on my feet. I am a mother of eight; I cannot take care of my children. I cannot live my life like before…I’d rather die than to continue living like this.”
Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine said:
“While much of the world’s attention has been focused on the Palestinians being killed in airstrikes in Gaza, there is a silent but rising tide of patients with cancer who are needlessly dying because they’re unable to get the treatment they need. These sick men, women, and children have to suffer the double indignity of living in cramped and inhumane conditions without enough food and water, let alone the medicines they require.
We know that early diagnosis of cancer saves lives, but with Gaza’s healthcare system so overburdened and people so focused on their immediate survival, it’s likely that hundreds more cases are going undetected and untreated.
Even before October 7, thousands of Palestinians were being denied their fundamental right to healthcare. In the past I’ve met women in Gaza who’d had their requests to leave the strip for urgent treatment refused, essentially condemning them to death. The Israeli authorities must allow people to access vital healthcare. Gaza desperately needs a permanent ceasefire, now, to prevent more people being killed and allow crucial aid – including medical supplies – to enter the territory.”
For media requests, please email Jenna.Farineau@actionaid.org or call 202-731-9593.
- Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director of ActionAid USA
- Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine
ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 41 million people living in more than 71 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world, in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.