The West Bank and Gaza are experiencing an epidemic of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that doctors say are taxing already overwhelmed hospitals and medical facilities, and could spread elsewhere.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the drug-resistant bugs are especially prevalent in Gaza, which has been subjected to an ongoing blockade by Israel and Egypt for the last decade. The blockade has made it difficult for hospitals in Gaza to obtain antibiotics, water, power, and fuel, necessary health tools for doctors in a region in the midst of ever-present war. And doctors say patients injured in outbreaks of violence at the Gaza/Israel border are at high risk for contracting the superbug; 2000 Gazans who suffered gunshot injuries to their extremities have contracted the superbug infections, making it more difficult for them to heal.
“We are expecting an absolute catastrophe in terms of residual disability in the wounded,” Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a surgeon at the American University of Beirut Medical Center who treats patients in Palestine, said.
The superbugs don’t just pose a health crisis in Palestine. Patients are occasionally transferred to hospitals in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon. Traveling doctors and aid workers could carry the superbugs without exhibiting symptoms, unwittingly bringing them back to their home countries.
“It will always get out,” Abu-Sittah said. “There are papers from Scotland that show actually multi-drug resistant bacteria can be found in the pellets of migrating birds. The idea anyone could be immune to this phenomena is absurd.”