Children no longer need to leave Gaza for cancer treatment

February 12, 2019
new cancer ward in Gza will help children and their parents

Four-year-old Aseel was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2016

Daoud Kuttab writes in Al Monitor, “When 6-year-old Deema al-Shaqar from Gaza’s Khan Yunis kept getting headaches and high fevers, her family finally decided in March 2018 to seek professional medical advice. Doctors concluded after lab tests that she had leukemia and referred her to the Huda Al Masri Pediatric Cancer Department, an oncology center for Palestinian children with a modern cancer ward at Al-Hussein Government Hospital.”

“The problem is that this hospital is in the West Bank city of Beit Jala. There are no cancer treatment centers for children in Gaza, meaning that Deema’s family members must get a permit from Israel to travel — where they are searched at the Erez checkpoint — and then repeat this process for each round of Deema’s chemotherapy.”…

“Speaking to Al-Monitor by phone, Salameh repeated the problems all Gazans know by heart. “Traveling from Gaza is not easy. First, you need to get approval for the sick person, and then each time the person going with her also needs to get approval. Normally, only women over 45 are considered for travel permits — even if they are accompanying sick children. Her mother was once allowed, but the Israelis rejected her the second time.”…

Three-year-old Louay Al Khoudari from Gaza in Nablus hospital in August 2018

“But the travel permit dilemma for young Deema, her family and other cancer patients might be addressed now that a state-of-the-art cancer ward is about to open in a Gaza hospital. Steve Sosebee, CEO and founder of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), a US-registered charity that also built and opened the Huda Al-Masri department in Beit Jala in 2013, told Al-Monitor that the new $3.5 million ward is set to open Feb. 19 and will be named after Musa and Suhaila Nasir, co-founders of the PCRF. All of the over $3.5 million raised for this new department were through private donations.” (more…)


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