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Gaza Conflict Triggers Infectious Disease Crisis, According to New Study – Calls for Global Aid

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In the wake of continued conflicts in Gaza, a grave and often overlooked consequence has emerged: a significant rise in infectious diseases, posing a dire threat to public health. This situation, mirrored in conflict zones worldwide, illuminates the harsh reality that violence and health crises often go hand in hand.

These findings were published in the journal PLOS Global Health.

Gaza’s healthcare system, battered by ongoing conflicts, faces unprecedented challenges. With hospitals destroyed and healthcare workers among the casualties, the region struggles to cope with the growing health needs of its population. Compounding this is the severe restriction on aid delivery due to a longstanding blockade, leaving millions without essential healthcare support.

The crisis has created an environment ripe for the spread of infectious diseases. Overcrowding in shelters, inadequate water and sanitation, and a collapse in healthcare services have led to outbreaks of diarrhoea, dysentery, respiratory infections, and hepatitis A, particularly impacting children under five and pregnant women. These conditions are exacerbated by malnutrition and a lack of access to routine vaccinations, further weakening the population’s resistance to disease.

A worrying aspect of this health crisis is the surge in antimicrobial-resistant infections. Reports indicate that multidrug-resistant strains of bacteria are increasingly being found, a situation exacerbated by the conflict’s disruption of infection prevention measures. This growing antimicrobial resistance poses a significant challenge not only to Gaza but to global health security.

The situation in Gaza is not unique. Historical evidence from conflict zones like Iraq, Syria, and Yemen shows similar patterns where destroyed healthcare infrastructure and disrupted public services lead to widespread disease outbreaks. These include cholera, poliomyelitis, and measles, often compounded by malnutrition and poor living conditions.

Calls for a ceasefire and international aid have intensified in response to the crisis. The United Nations and the World Health Organization have highlighted the need for immediate action to address the health emergency in Gaza. Essential measures include repairing and upgrading sanitation systems, ensuring access to clean water, providing essential medical supplies and nutrition, and restoring routine health services like vaccinations.

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