Nasma Abu Lasheen and access to health care Nasma Abu Lasheen, a two year-old girl from Gaza suffering from leukaemia, died on 16 October 2010 after Israeli authorities failed to issue her an urgent permit in time for life-saving medical treatment at an Israeli hospital. When the permit was granted after more than a week’s delay, it was already too late.
Palestinian patients seeking specialised medical treatment unavailable in Gaza are one of the very few categories allowed to leave the Gaza Strip - if granted a permit. However, the permits are still frequently delayed or denied by Israeli authorities, which can have dire consequences. Delayed patients generally miss their hospital appointments and need to start the permit process over again. Since 2009, 33 patients have died before being able to access the hospital they were referred to. For children in particular, caregiving family members of ill children also do not receive permits to cross, posing additional child protection risks. Some patients seeking permits are interrogated by the Israeli intelligence services at the Erez crossing, raising strong concerns about conditionality placed on exit for medical treatment.
Given the absence of progress on the Israeli side and increased opening of the Rafah crossing since June 2010, a substantially higher proportion of patients from Gaza are now being referred to Egypt, despite the much lengthier journey to Egyptian hospitals, that can compromise emergency and patient care.
The need to refer patients for treatment outside Gaza is being reinforced by Israeli restrictions on entry of medical equipment and spare parts. Since the ‘easing’ more equipment has been allowed entry, but some essential types of equipment are still blocked, including radiation machines for oncology, endoscopy and laparoscopy machines for surgery, microscopes and other optic equipment.
- Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade
- WHO , MONTHLY REPO RT Referral of Patients from the Gaza Strip, September 2010. http://www.issuu.com/who-opt/docs/update_rad_september_2010.
- The numbers of patients referred to Egypt have roughly doubled since June 2010. Whereas between January and May 2010 24% of patients referred to hospitals outside Gaza went to Egypt, since June Egypt’s share of referrals has risen to 41%.
- Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Delayed Exit of a Toddler from Gaza Results in Death, 20 October 2010.
- Gaza girl paralyzed in strike can’t stay in Israel
- Response from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel