Health organizations are warning of an imminent public health crisis in the Gaza Strip, where disruptions to health and water systems are raising the risk of disease outbreaks.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) on Thursday warned of the inevitable spread of waterborne illnesses such as cholera and typhoid, caused by contaminated water sources and a lack of sanitation.
Currently, 95 percent of the population in Gaza has no access to safe water, while 64 percent of primary health facilities have shut down, IRC warns, as Israel conducts a lethal bombing campaign.
“The conditions are ripe for the spread of communicable and waterborne diseases — diseases that adversely affect children and lead to preventable deaths,” said Bob Kitchen, the IRC’s vice president of emergencies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday warned that lack of fuel has disrupted waste collection and caused desalination plants to shut down, leading to a significant increase in the spread of bacterial infections, such as diarrhea, which has already hit 33,551 people since mid-October.
The organization said that with almost 1.5 million displaced people across Gaza, health facilities and shelters are overcrowded, raising the risk of infectious disease transmission.
“Disrupted routine vaccination activities, as well as lack of medicines for treating communicable diseases, further increase the risk of accelerated disease spread,” the WHO warned.
Both the WHO and IRC have reiterated their call for a humanitarian cease-fire to allow aid into the strip, which Israel has been striking for more than a month in retaliation for Hamas militants’ deadly attack against Israel on October 7.