This is Rodina Abu Khrais, a 4 year-old-girl (from Gaza) with a congenital heart defect, has been unable to access urgent health care for the past two years. In 2013 Rodina had heart surgery in Tel Hashomer hospital shortly after birth and had three follow up visits, one of which required an admission for one month. Since July 2015, the family has applied 10 times for an exit permit for catheterization and evaluation for additional heart surgery for the child without success.
Seven times the request was still under study on the date of the hospital appointment, and on two occasions the family was asked to change the companion. Once there was no response at all to the request. All four grandparents and a family relative have been listed as possible companions but no approval was given. The child has a number of disabilities, said the father: “Rodina depends on oxygen therapy most of the time, and cannot talk or walk. She also has a hearing impairment and clings to her mother most of the time.” The family has appealed through the ICRC and two local human rights organizations without success and have another permit request pending.
Rodina’s case is just one of many Gaza patients denied, restricted or delayed access to urgent medical care in Israel or Egypt. Here is the WHO access summary for February 2017:
Difficult access through Erez (the only border crossing to Israel):
- 40% of patients were denied/delayed permits: Of 2,391 patient applications for a permit to exit Gaza through Erez checkpoint for hospital appointments in February, 1,431 (59.85%) were approved; 74 patients (3.09%) were denied permits while 886 (37.06%) received no response including 192 children and 77 people over 60 years (WHO Case Studies, p. 4) (Palestinian District Liaison office in Gaza).
- About half of patients’ companions were denied/ delayed permits: The approval rate for permit applications of patient companions was 50.4%; 4.5% of the companions were denied permits and the remaining 45.1% were still pending by the patients’ scheduled hospital dates.
- · Security interrogations for patients: 35 patients (25 males; 10 females) including 3 men over 60 were requested by the General Security Services for interviews at Erez during February. 6 were approved.
Limited access through Rafah crossing (to Egypt):
- · Limited access to Egypt: According to Palestinian officials at Rafah terminal, the Rafah border terminal was open in both directions for 3 days only in February allowing 280 patients to travel for health reasons to Egypt.
[From WHO monthly access report for February 2017]