Amin Asfour

I was one of the main anesthesiologists in Gaza.  There was always insufficient medicine for my work.  I had the opportunity to work all over the world. For this specialization the world is open, but I refused.  I was in France, a professor there of anesthesiology and intensive care who is responsible for this work in the EU asked me to work with him.  When he saw the difficult work I have done he asked me to stay there and to take a French salary.  I refused, I want to be here.   

Our doctors here are very good, they are not leaving and are very good but they have too many patients.  Once I was on duty at the hospital.  In the morning of a feast day I received approximately 130 patients in just four hours.  I helped them, but how much.  Normally every patient should get 15 minutes but I could only spend 2 minutes with patients.  Doctors come from outside and are impressed by our work, but there is too much work for them to do.  Our doctors are trained all over the world.  Our doctors speak all languages.  

Theresa  and Amin Asfour
Over 30 percent of patients in Gaza who need outside treatment are denied permits to leave or are delayed treatment.

If you have a medical condition that needs treatment in another country, you need permission to travel.  You aren’t allowed to travel.  You have to stay for six months or a year until your name comes up and you get a permit to travel.  Then perhaps you can travel.  If you want to go through Israel to Jordan you have to get permission from Jordan, from Israel, and from Hamas.  If you don’t receive permission from all three you can’t travel.  If you have a serious condition you will die here waiting for permission.  That is the blockade.  

Too many people have died at home or at the borders waiting. Too many.  They die because the borders are closed.  This is a big prison.   

Israel decides about our lives and how we live.  They give us just enough to live. They say don’t die, but don’t live.   

We have medicine here in Gaza, you can’t say that there isn’t medicine in Gaza.  Ramallah sends medicine to Gaza and other countries send medicine and supplies to Gaza. But many of the donations are expired or near their expiry date.  The medicine that comes to the Ministry of Health is often only good for one or two months.  We can’t use that medicine.   

The quality of medicine is also impacted by the lack of electricity.  Medicine must be stored at carefully controlled temperatures, within a range of 5 degrees.  But with the electricity crisis the temperatures in pharmacy storage areas fluctuate by more.  This means that that the quality of medicine is impacted and much of the medicine we have is not effective.