Middle East

WHO Urges to Stop Healthcare Crisis in Gaza for Good

With the largest hospital in Gaza largely destroyed and out of action, access to healthcare has now become “totally inadequate” following six months of brutal fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday.

That’s the assessment following a WHO-led multi-agency mission to  Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza on 5 April which examined the extent of destruction following a weeks-long Israeli offensive aimed at rooting out militant forces who were allegedly operating inside.

The highly complex mission was conducted in collaboration with the acting Hospital Director.

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Prior to the mission, WHO’s efforts to reach the hospital to evacuate patients and staff and conduct an assessment, were denied, delayed or impeded six times between 25 March and 1 April.

‘An empty shell’

Like the majority of the north, Al-Shifa Hospital ­“is now an empty shell after the latest siege”, said WHO, with no patients remaining at the facility.

“Most of the buildings are extensively damaged or destroyed and the majority of equipment is unusable or reduced to ashes.”

The WHO team said that the scale of devastation has left the facility completely non-functional, further reducing access to life-saving healthcare in Gaza.

Restoring even minimal functionality in the short term seems implausible and will require substantial efforts to assess and clear the grounds for unexploded ordnance to ensure safety and accessibility”, said WHO.

The hospital’s emergency department, surgical, and maternity ward buildings are extensively damaged due to explosives and fire.

At least 115 beds in what once was the emergency department have been burnt and 14 incubators in the NICU destroyed, among other assets. An in-depth assessment by a team of engineers is needed to determine if these buildings can be made safe for future use.

The hospital’s oxygen plant has been destroyed, leaving Kamal Adwan Hospital as the only source of medical oxygen production in the north. Further comprehensive assessment is essential to evaluate the functionality of vital equipment such as CT scanners, ventilators, sterilization devices, and surgical equip


A multi agency UN team assess the destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City, following the end of the latest Israeli siege there.

ment, including surgical tools and anaesthesia devices, the agency reported.

Shallow graves

Numerous shallow graves have been dug just outside the emergency department, and the administrative and surgical buildings, WHO said.

“In the same area, many dead bodies were partially buried with their limbs visible. During the visit, WHO staff witnessed at least five bodies lying partially covered on the ground, exposed to the heat” with “a pungent smell of decomposing bodies engulfing the hospital compound.

Safeguarding dignity, even in death, is an indispensable act of humanity”, the agency added.

According to the acting Hospital Director, patients were held in abysmal conditions during the siege. They endured severe lack of food, water, healthcare, hygiene and sanitation, and were forced to relocate between buildings at gunpoint. At least 20 patients have reportedly died due to the lack of access to care and limited movement authorized for health personnel.

Unnecessary delays

Despite deconfliction, Friday’s mission faced significant delays at the military checkpoint en route to Al-Shifa Hospital. On the same day, another WHO-led mission bound for Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals in northern Gaza – to deliver medical supplies, fuel, deploy emergency medical teams, and support referral of critical patients – encountered unnecessary delays, including the detention of a supply truck driver who was part of the convoy.

Between mid-October and the end of March, over half of all WHO missions have been denied, delayed, impeded or postponed. “As health needs soar, the lack of a functional deconfliction system is a major obstacle in delivering humanitarian aid at the scale that is needed”, the UN health agency said.

The destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital and Nasser Medical Complex in the southern city of Khan Younis last month, “has broken the backbone of the already ailing health system.”

UN News

Footage shows the destruction of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, following the end of the latest Israeli siege. The World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated that hospitals must be respected and protected; not be used as battlefields.

As WHO marks World Health Day on Sunday, under the theme My health, my right, this basic right is utterly out of reach for the civilians of Gaza, said the agency.

“Access to health care in Gaza has become totally inadequate, and the ability of WHO and partners to help is constantly disrupted and impeded.”

Of the 36 main hospitals that used to serve over two million Gazans, only 10 remain somewhat functional, with severe limitations on the types of services they can deliver.

Rafah invasion: ‘unimaginable health consequences’

Any military incursion into Rafah where nearly 1.5 million are sheltering can only result in further loss of healthcare and would have unimaginable health consequences. 

“The systematic dismantling of healthcare must end”, said WHO.

It also demanded the opening up of additional land crossings, as Israel has indicated that it was prepared to do following a call with the White House earlier in the week, to allow access into and across Gaza more safely and directly.



  1. The systematic dismantling of healthcare in Gaza must come to an end. It’s devastating to see the largest hospital in Gaza destroyed, leaving access to healthcare totally inadequate. Something needs to change urgently to save lives.

  2. Isn’t there any immediate plan in place to rebuild the hospital and restore healthcare services for the people in Gaza?

    1. There must be urgent efforts made to rebuild the hospital and enhance healthcare services in Gaza. It is crucial to prioritize the well-being of the people affected by the healthcare crisis. Action needs to be taken promptly to ensure access to essential medical care for the population in Gaza.

  3. It is heartbreaking to see the healthcare crisis in Gaza reaching such devastating levels. The destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital is truly a tragedy, leaving the region with totally inadequate access to healthcare. Immediate action is crucial to stop this humanitarian catastrophe.

  4. As a healthcare professional, it breaks my heart to see the dire situation in Gaza. The destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital is devastating and the lack of access to healthcare is utterly unacceptable. Immediate action must be taken to end this crisis and ensure the well-being of the people in need.

  5. It’s heartbreaking to see the state of healthcare in Gaza deteriorating rapidly. The destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital has left the region in a healthcare crisis that is unacceptable. Immediate action is needed to address this urgent situation.

  6. It is heartbreaking to see the devastation in Gaza’s largest hospital. The urgent need for healthcare must be addressed immediately. Hope to see swift action for rebuilding and restoring healthcare services for the people in Gaza.

  7. Is there any international aid planned to rebuild the hospital and improve healthcare access in Gaza after this devastating crisis?

    1. International aid efforts are currently being coordinated to rebuild the hospital in Gaza and enhance healthcare access following the recent crisis. Various organizations are working together to provide support and resources to ensure the local population receives the necessary medical care. It’s vital that the global community continues to prioritize humanitarian assistance in these urgent situations to prevent further suffering and address the healthcare needs of the affected individuals.

  8. How can we ensure access to adequate healthcare in Gaza amidst such destruction?

    1. To ensure access to adequate healthcare in Gaza amidst such destruction, it is imperative that immediate actions be taken to rebuild and support the healthcare infrastructure. International aid and cooperation are crucial in providing the necessary resources and expertise to address the healthcare crisis in Gaza. It is a collective responsibility to prioritize the well-being and medical needs of the people affected by the ongoing conflict.

  9. It’s heartbreaking to witness the devastating impact of the conflict on healthcare in Gaza. The destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital is a stark reminder of the urgent need for sustainable solutions to ensure access to vital medical services for the people in Gaza.

  10. It is heartbreaking to see the healthcare crisis in Gaza worsen due to the destruction of Al-Shifa Hospital. WHO’s assessment reveals the dire situation that the people in Gaza are facing. Immediate action is crucial to provide essential healthcare services to those in need.

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