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Public health and hospital consultants raise Gaza health concerns

By David Lynch - 03rd Mar 2024


Irish public health doctors have raised concerns with the Government over the “devastating implications for the health” of the Gaza population during the ongoing Israeli attack.

The Irish Society of Specialists in Public Health Medicine recently wrote a letter to the Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin, highlighting its worries.

“We have encouraged our members to send it [the letter] to their local TDs and have also tweeted details from our ISSPHM [X/Twitter] account,” a Society spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).

The letter noted that the “ongoing failure to protect healthcare in Gaza” will have a severely negative impact on the health of the local population.

The lack of access to clean water, adequate nutrition, and safe shelter “will have catastrophic effects… for years to come”, it states.

The Society welcomed the Government’s continued support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

However, “more is needed to secure adequate funding of all key relief agencies working in Gaza and to ensure the immediate and safe access to meaningful humanitarian assistance for the people of Gaza,” according to the letter.

The IHCA also released a recent statement on the issue. According to the statement, its members were “deeply concerned” by the healthcare and humanitarian crises in Gaza and the Middle East.

The Association noted that the conflict’s impact on healthcare professionals and hospitals is “devastating”.

“Doctors play a pivotal role in providing critical care and comfort to those affected by violence and upheaval,” stated the IHCA. “Hospitals and healthcare professionals in the area must be allowed to function.”

“We encourage our leaders, including the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, to continue to condemn violence and use every platform possible to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”

On X, Prof Afif El-Khuffash, Consultant Neonatologist at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, and Clinical Professor of Paediatrics, RCSI, wrote that he was “proud” of the IHCA statement “of support for the unfortunate people of Gaza”.

“Let’s hope more organisations are inspired to do the same,” he added.

In January, Prof El-Khuffash told MI the “toll of what is happening in Gaza is horrendous”.

Prof El-Khuffash was involved in establishing the Gaza Paediatric Care Initiative (GPCI), which has “the single goal” of helping “all the children caught in the crossfire of the current conflict in Palestine”. By 28 February, over €160,000 had been raised on the GPCI GoFundMe page.

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