Feature: Kidney patients in Gaza suffer from lack of medicine

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by Sanaa Kamal

GAZA, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- For long hours, Ibrahim al-Akhras, a Palestinian kidney patient from Gaza city, has been waiting for his turn at al-Shifaa hospital to start his usual procedure, which normally lasts for at least four hours.

The 65-year-old man said he should be receiving his treatment that would enable him to get rid of toxins and fluids accumulated in his body due to the failure of his kidneys three times a week. However, in reality, he only gets it once due to the lack of medical supplies in the strip.

"Unfortunately, the medical sector has been deteriorating due to the lack of medical supplies, while the number of patients has increased overtime," the father of eight told Xinhua with a breaking voice.

The lack of treatment sessions has a direct impact on patients' health, since they lack the "erythropoietin" hormone that's responsible for the industrial formation of red blood cells in the body.

Al-Akhras has not received the hormone for three months and he is now fearing he would get anemia as a result.

He is calling on Arab and international players to provide the Gaza Strip with medical supplies and medicines, necessary for the continuity of human life.

Al-Akhras is among the 900 patients with kidney failure in Gaza, while the number of patients who underwent kidney transplantation is 333, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the strip.

Usually, a kidney patient is connected to the dialysis device through a small plastic tube that is clipped to his hand or another part of the body, while the wheel of the device begins to spin to start the treatment phase, which may take four hours.

Doaa Dallol from Gaza city is another patient who experiences the same problem. She could hardly wake up from a long sleep caused by severe anemia that afflicted her due to the deficiency of the hormone.

Her mother, Amna Mohammed, told Xinhua that Doaa should have undergone through a kidney transplant during the next stage. However, she could not receive external blood units as an alternative to the hormone because this would prevent her from performing the medical operation, leaving her in the state of fatigue and exhaustion.

Doctors and specialists said the increase number of people with kidney failure results from high blood pressure, diabetes, urinary tract infections and the formation of stones.

According to the World Health Organization, 10 percent of people in the world suffer from chronic kidney disease, and it ranked the 18th on the list of diseases that cause death. While in Palestine, it is the ninth cause.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza warned of the aggravation of the suffering of kidney patients and the dangerous repercussions on them due to running out of the hormone in light of the lack of financial ability to purchase it.

The Director of the Hospital Pharmacy Department in the ministry Alaa Helles told Xinhua that most natural resources for providing treatment are either through direct purchase or grants through international institutions.

Due to the scarcity of grants and the inability to purchase the hormone, the strip is in dire need of about 10,000 doses of the hormone monthly, including 8,000 doses for hemodialysis patients and 2,000 doses for kidney failure patients, said Alaa.

The Gaza Health Ministry suffers from a shortage of essential medicines by 45 percent and a lack of medical consumables by 33 percent. In comparison, the drought in laboratory supplies has reached 56 percent, according to the ministry officials.

"The deficiency of the hormone responsible for maintaining blood levels leads to many complications, including anemia, and may lead to complications such as heart failure," Abdullah al-Qishawi, head of the artificial kidney department at al-Shifaa Hospital, told Xinhua.

Al-Qishawi added that many patients, who are scheduled to undergo kidney transplants, will risk to lose their turn if the hormone is replaced by adding new blood units, as the body may have antibodies to the blood units and thus attack the transplanted kidney and lead to its failure.

In a bid to overcome this problem, the medical engineers at al-Shifaa Hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, are usually repairing several medical devices, including X-rays, some of which have been broken and out of service due to the lack of spare parts needed to repair them due to Israeli restrictions on the crossings.

The problems of medical devices with overuse are represented in the non-supply of machines and other failures, according to Kamal Jaber, director of the radiology department in the hospital, told Xinhua.

Jaber explained that the hospital's operations department has four X-ray machines out of six, some of which have been out of work since 2019. Even though the ministry financed the supply of 14 new devices, the Israeli authorities have prevented their entry for several months. Enditem

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