What happened when I needed minor surgery in Gaza?

On Tuesday 30 May I had a sudden severe pain in my left ear. It could not sleep as I felt the pain spread all over my body. I contacted the doctor at around 11pm and told him, he told me to take painkillers and told me to come in for a medical examination the next morning at Al-Shifa Hospital.

In the morning, after confirming the appointment, I headed to the ENT clinic at Gaza’s largest hospital.

The doctor found that I had a sever inflammation in my eardrum because of a build up of pus. After getting a second opinion, the doctor decided urgent treatment was needed to clear the pus before it causes more damage.

No medical kits

Patients in Gaza have no access to anaethetic because of a severe shortage of medicines [Motasem A Dalloul/Middle East Monitor]

Patients in Gaza have no access to anaethetic because of a severe shortage of medicines [Motasem A Dalloul/Middle East Monitor]

The doctors went to collect medical kits; I could tell that one of the doctors, a friend of mine, was shy to bring out used kits. Disposable medical kits are regularly reused in Gaza due to a shortage in supplies. The doctors left the room for a while and returned with a small number of instruments which they placed in a steriliser before declaring themselves ready to start.

As the doctors approached me to begin the treatment, I turned to ask if they planned to carry out the surgery without anaesthetic, to which both doctors said yes. The limited amount of nitrous oxide gas in Gaza means doctors can only use it for major surgeries, they explained. They assured me that my treatment would not hurt too much. I agreed to go ahead.

Read: 2,500 patients ‘in danger’ with no access to medical care in Gaza

As one doctor tried to hold my head still, the other worked to clear my inflammed eardrum. The pain was unbearable, I kept trying to get away and eventually I had to stand up and stop the treatment. I didn’t want to go ahead any more.

One doctor told me to have some painkillers and antibiotics to ease the pain, adding that it would continue for a few more days. The treatment would need to be completed, however, as the pus could damage my hearing.

To date I have been unable to go back to the hospital for treatment as the pain was too great to bear and stocks of anaesthetics are not being replenished.

Cut off from the PA

For more than five months, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza has been suffering from a severe shortage of equipment and medicines. Officials say that the ministry in Ramallah does not send funds, running costs or medicines to Gaza. Claims the PA in Ramallah denies.


Moneer Al-Bursh, the head of the pharmaceutical department in Gaza, said that the ministry in the West Bank does not send all the necessary equipment to hospitals in Gaza. He stressed that Ramallah’s claims that the administrative committee in the Gaza Strip misuses medicines and treatment referrals are “baseless”.

He called on the PA to release the administrative fees of Gaza’s hospitals and clinics, deliver medicines and medical equipment and salaries as soon as possible. He also called on the international community to step up to resolve is humanitarian crisis.