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1 Oct, 2018

WHO: 20% of Palestinians denied access to medical care outside Gaza were cancer patients

JERUSALAM, September 27, 2018 (WAFA) – A fifth or 20% of the August applications by patients in the Gaza Strip that were denied by Israel a permit to leave the besieged enclave for medical treatment in East Jerusalem or Israeli hospitals were cancer patients, said the World Health Organization’s monthly report on health access for Palestinians in the occupied territories published on Thursday.

In addition, it said, 18% of the denied applications were for orthopedics and 14% for neurosurgery patients.

Several Gaza patients have actually died waiting for a permit to get life-saving treatment not available in Gaza.

The report said 152 patient applications (98 male; 54 female), or 7% of the total, were denied permission to cross Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing from Gaza to Israel in August for health care. Those denied included seven children under the age of 18 years and 23 patients aged 60 years or older.

The report said 68% of the permit applications were approved – 1,484 (781 male; 703 female) of the 2,173 applications.

It said, however, that the approval rate of permit applications for Palestinians injured by Israeli army gunfire during the border protests was significantly lower than the overall approval rate, with only three out of 53 applications in August were approved (6%), 17 (32%) denied, and 33 (62%) delayed.

According to the report, 537 patient applications (342 male; 195 female), or 25% of the total, were delayed access to care, receiving no definitive response to their application by the date of their hospital appointment. Of these, 126 applications were for children under the age of 18 and 47 applications were for patients aged 60 years or older.

Of the 537 delayed patients, a quarter (24%) had appointments for orthopedics, 12% for cancer treatment and 7% for ophthalmology. Almost two thirds (67%) of delayed patients submitted their applications more than 15 days prior to their hospital appointment, said WHO.

Since patients seeking treatment outside Gaza need to have at least one companion with them, particularly children and the elderly, out of 2,491 applications to Israeli authorities by companions for permits to cross Erez to accompany patients, 1,301 (52%) patient companion applications were approved, 256 applications (10%) were denied and 934 (38%) remained pending on the date of the patient’s medical appointment, according to the August report.