Welcome to the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group weekly bulletin where we aim to bring you the latest information about the crisis and its impacts on our expert eye-care services in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

With hostilities in Gaza and Israel continuing for the past seven months, it is reported that more than 34,000 people have now been killed and 72,000 injured in the Gaza Strip. It is also reported that 1,200 Israelis have been killed with more than 5,400 injured. The two parties (Israel and Hamas) have failed to reach a ceasefire agreement.

Many of the hostilities are in the southern parts of the Gaza Strip with a major concern regarding possible land incursions in Rafah where some 1.2 million displaced people are residing.

We are delighted to report that we have recommenced our services in Gaza as part of a three-phase emergency medical response plan.

Phase One, which started on the 20th of April, involves setting up three workstations in the south and middle parts of the Strip in partnership with other humanitarian health care providers namely UK Med, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and United Nations.

This includes vision screening, comprehensive eye examinations, treatment of eye infections and inflammations, treatment of chronic diseases such as glaucoma, suturing and dressing of wounds.

Phases Two and Three will focus on the prevention of blindness and treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy and rehabilitating and re-equipping our hospital in Gaza City.

We are most grateful to our national and international humanitarian partners who have enabled us to implement this logistically challenging plan.

As for our staff, most are residing in Rafah and Deir El Balah (south of the Gaza Strip) and remain unharmed. The Hospital has continued to pay staff despite all the challenges.

For detailed information about the situation on the ground, please refer to the latest update on the website of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website – https://www.ochaopt.org/crisis.

Originally published on www.stjohninternational.org.za