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Turkey ready to take cancer patients from shut Gaza hospital


A general view shows smoke as it rises following Israeli strikes in Gaza, October 9, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo

Turkey is ready to take in cancer patients from Gaza’s Turkish-Palestinian Friendship hospital, which went out of service on Wednesday after running out of fuel, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday.

Health officials said on Wednesday that the hospital, which was the only cancer treatment hospital in the Gaza Strip, had to shut down amid Israel’s bombardment of the enclave.

In a statement on social messaging platform X, Koca said that if the necessary coordination was done Turkey was ready to bring both cancer patients and others in need of emergency help to Turkey to continue their treatment.

“As Turkey… we are ready to provide any and all support in continuing the treatment of cancer patients who were forcibly discharged from the hospital due to a lack of resources,” Koca said.

“The international community and relevant institutions have unfortunately not taken enough initiative to prevent the attacks on the hospital. Saving the lives of the patients is now a duty that cannot be escaped,” he added.

Earlier the United Arab Emirates said it planned to treat 1,000 Palestinian children from Gaza, without saying how they would leave the enclave for the Gulf state.

Turkey has so far sent more than 200 tonnes of humanitarian aid and a team of medical personnel to Egypt for Gazans, while also offering to set up a field hospital near the Rafah border crossing. It has strongly condemned Israeli attacks on Gaza, carried out in retaliation for Palestinian militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on Israel, and has called for a ceasefire.

The health ministry in Gaza said on Thursday that four cancer patients died due to the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship hospital, the only cancer treatment facility in Gaza, being out of service.

In an update by Medical Aid for Palestinians, Dr. Marwan Abusada, chief of surgery at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, said the situation was “beyond catastrophic” at hospitals in Gaza.

“We are almost out of fuel… The consumption needs are immense due to the influx of injuries and the thousands of people who are displaced and seeking refuge in the hospital,” Abusada said, adding Al-Shifa had more than 800 injured people, far beyond its capacity.

He said many displaced people were living in the hospital courtyard and inside the building, including its corridors, and that there was a high chance of pandemics spreading between the patients and displaced.

“The ER rooms are beyond full. We have zero capacity to treat all the injured people. Every hour we have tens of injured that come for treatment. We are facing a real catastrophe.”

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