Power outages and heat waves impede the lives of Gaza patients
GAZA (Reuters) – A heatwave and worsening power outages in Gaza have left some people living in the densely populated enclave struggling to breathe.
Ismail Nashwan, who suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, had to move between his home and the hospital since temperatures rose above 38 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), because he could not operate a ventilator, or even just a fan, at home.
“I go to the hospital, and when I get home, the electricity goes off again, so I go back to the hospital,” said Nashwan, 65, through an oxygen mask, and dozens of medicine bags on a table next to the breathing equipment. in his room.
“This is how my life has become.”
More than 2.3 million people live in a narrow strip of land sandwiched between Egypt and Israel. Power outages, unpredictable at the best of times, now last 12 hours a day instead of 10 as demand for air-conditioning increases.
Hamas, which has run the Strip since 2007, blames a 16-year Israeli blockade – supported by neighboring Egypt – for destroying Gaza’s economy. Israel says its blockade is necessary to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas.
Extreme heat and power outages mean they have to treat more people with respiratory problems in July and August – usually the hottest time of the year – said Dr. Mohammed al-Hajj of Gaza’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.
“The power outage deprives patients of their right to regular ventilation with oxygen, and this forces patients to visit the hospital constantly,” al-Hajj said.
Besides cases of acquired pulmonary fibrosis, Gaza health officials say more than 300 people in the enclave were born with cystic fibrosis, which causes the lungs and digestive tract to become clogged with sticky mucus.
Abdel-Majid al-Sabakhi, who suffers from diabetes and cystic fibrosis, was among those forced to be hospitalized due to the heat.
“I can’t stand the heat at home, it causes more chest infections and raises my heart rate, so I spend most of my time in the hospital,” he said.
(Reporting by Nidal Mughrabi; Editing by Philippa Fletcher)