Wednesday, May 25

Living from 4 months with kidney failure in Gaza, an enclave with a suffocated health system

Zain and Malak have known each other since they were babies. The hospital is their home, school and one of the few places they know. While many other boys and girls make friends on the playground, they did so by sharing dialysis sessions. Their mothers find comfort in each other and hold back their tears in their talk with us so that their children’s plight is clearly understood.

Malak Hamatto, 8, is a Palestine refugee girl of occupied Jaffa. He lives in the Shoujaeya neighborhood, east of Gaza City. suffers kidney failure from four months. The little girl has four brothers; one of them died from the same illness as hers.

Since her diagnosis, Malak has been referred to Abdel Aziz Al-Rantissi Hospital, one of the public hospitals where the only dialysis treatment facility in Gaza is located. The scarcity of plants dedicated to this problem in the hospitals of the coastal enclave lies in the extreme situation and collapse that the health facilities are going through. The blockade imposed by Israel in 2007 and that the civilian population has been suffering since then, tense the already unstable economic and health situation. All this has led to a fragile health system and in a perpetual shortage of resources, treatments, essential medicines and medical devices, in addition to an insufficient number of specialized professionals; rendering the system unable to meet the basic medical needs of the population.

“My daughter He began his treatment at 4 months at home. His size and weight did not allow him to undergo hemodialysis. She was like this until she was 5 years old. It was a very difficult stage because she was suffering from high blood pressure, bone problems and enlargement of the heart muscle”, says Aya, Malak’s mother. After five years, Malak started hemodialysis.

“I feel consumed and exhausted because of how much my daughter is suffering every day. Psychologically and physically it was very difficult for her. So far it’s been 3 years of dialysis, whose sessions sometimes last many hours. Unfortunately there are medicines that do not exist in Gaza and that is another suffering”, says Aya. She considered the possibility of transplanting her father’s kidney, but the process was stopped due to the difference in blood type. “I was afraid that her body would not accept it well,” says her mother.

Malak is forced to stay more time in hospitals than at home with his mother. Aya is constantly trying to turn this tough situation into something more fun, to make her daughter feel better. But the economic resources of her family do not help her and on many occasions they cannot afford to buy her toys. “I tried to buy a wheelchair to make it easier for him to move, but I couldn’t. I feel powerless being a mother who doesn’t have the option to change her daughter’s life.” Aya finds calm in certain moments of the day where she spends time thinking positive: “May she grow up healthy, happy and with a prosperous future.”

As we entered the hospital ward, Zain greeted us with an inspiring smile. With the same state of health, Malak and Zain remain seated next to each other. Their mothers, united by their children’s illness, have found in their relationship a friendship, unconditional support and exchange of information on ways to treat their children, which makes them feel more accompanied on this hard road.

Children with kidney failure in the Gaza Strip go through very hard episodes. They live in an area of ​​the world where there is a serious shortage of medicines in establishments.

The right to health is universal and includes access to essential medicines. Their scarcity indicates problems in the capacity of any health system to manage resources in response to the needs of the population. The refugee from Palestine has been living with these obstacles for 15 years.

In Gaza, the health system relies heavily on humanitarian aid for basic medical services. The health of Palestine refugees are fundamental pillars of the work of the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA. The Agency has offered for more than 7 decades basic health services and is responsible for providing a healthy living environment in Gaza, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the West Bank. The Agency’s network of primary care centers and mobile clinics forms the basis of its preventive care, general medicine and specialized services, adapting to each stage of life.

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