MSF has been in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 1989. Our work has changed depending on the situation, the needs of the people, and our agreements with the Ministry of Health. This summer our activities increased due to the war, specifically having surgeons here continuously (versus quarterly) to work at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City in partnership with Palestinian Ministry of Health staff.
We have two main projects in Gaza at the moment. One is focused on plastic surgery at Al Shifa hospital for burns, amputations, and wounds. We have staff in the operating theater including a nurse, anesthesiologist, and surgeon. The number of MSF staff has decreased with the workload in the last weeks due to the ceasefire.
MSF also has a post-operative clinic in Gaza City with physiotherapy services and dressing changes for patients who have undergone surgery. The types of wounds that are dressed include burns, external fixations, amputations, and skin grafts.
I hadn’t had much exposure to burn wounds prior to arriving to Gaza and I must say I cannot believe the severity of the wounds and the body surface area covered. I continue to remind myself that these people have already been recovering for a few weeks. Causes of burns include from explosions from the bombings, electrical burns from damaged (but active) power lines and household accidents (many people living in small quarters due to finding safer areas to stay during the war).
There is no discrimination when it comes to those who have been wounded… young and old, men and women. I am amazed by the strength of the wounded and can only imagine the pain they are suffering during dressing changes and physiotherapy. I suspect fear of the pain from therapy doesn’t help either. The cries echoing around the clinic are a less than gentle reminder of this pain and fear.