At least three children permanently disabled every month in Gaza: WHO report
Alok Gupta
At least three children are permanently disabled every month in Gaza due to armed conflict, data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows.
According to the report, in the past year, a total of 172 people in Gaza, among whom 36 are children, suffered permanent disability. In other words, every other day, violence in the enclave leaves one person disabled for life.
High-intensity gunshot wounds alone led to 121 amputations in Gaza, with health agencies fearing the number could rise if medical services are not upgraded.
The report, released on Friday, collated data between March 2018 and March 2019.
Between 1,209 and 1,746 patients required tertiary treatment to recover from their injury.
"Without this treatment being made available in Gaza, the number of amputations may drastically increase in 2019," the report warned. 
Israeli fire killed 277 people in the past year, and injured 28,104 others.
Among the wounded, 92 percent were men, and eight percent women. Of the total, 22 percent or 4,673 were children.
Violence flared up last year as Palestinians staged weekly protests along the fence with Israel since March 30 demanding the right to return to the lands and homes their ancestors were forced to leave 70 years ago. On many occasions, the "Great March of Return" turned bloody after Israeli soldiers opened fire on protesters in response to what the Israeli government repeatedly said were provocations by Palestinian militants.
Attacks on hospitals and medical centers in recent years further intensified the health crisis in the region.  
"Making the services available by setting up treatment centers, such as the osteomyelitis treatment center, deploying emergency medical teams from abroad, and providing essential medical resources, must remain a priority," said Jamie McGoldrick, a humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory.
Tear gas inhalation was the most significant cause of injury, with 10,768 cases, nearly half of all the wounded.
A total of 6,872 bullet wounds made up 25 percent of all injuries. Of which, 87 percent, or 5,043 cases, were to the upper and lower limbs. 
Shrapnel wounds accounted for eight percent, with 1,775 cases.
However, such a large number of casualties weakened the frail health care system in Gaza, which already suffers from a severe paucity of surgical specialties and understaffed operating rooms.
"Trauma interventions in Gaza are not only a response to the emergency but also a longer-term investment in building the capacity of the health system to address the critical service gaps that have persisted for years," said Gerald Rockenschaub, head of WHO's office for the occupied Palestinian territory.
(Top Image: A Palestinian demonstrator carries a wounded child to safety after clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces broke out during 71st anniversary of Nakba day, May 15, 2019. /VCG Photo)