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Children, elderly patients among those denied Israeli permit to get treatment outside Gaza

Out of 2,004 patient applications submitted in March for an Israeli permit to cross Erez/Beit Hanoun crossing between Gaza and Israel for health care outside the besieged Gaza Strip, only 1,293 (661 male; 632 female), or 65% of the total were approved, and 74 patient applications (57 male; 17 female), or 4% of the total, were denied permission, including four children under the age of 18 years and eight patients aged 60 years or older, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report.

In its monthly report on referral of Gaza patients for treatment abroad, WHO said approval rate for March was 7% lower than the previous month.

It said most of three fifths (58%) of applications to cross Erez were for appointments in East Jerusalem hospitals, one fifth (22%) were for hospitals in Israel, and one fifth for West Bank hospitals (20%), and they included specialties in oncology (31%); hematology (9%); orthopedics (8%); pediatrics (8%) and cardiology (7%). The remaining 37% referrals were for 26 other specialties.

WHO said 27% of denied applications were for appointments in orthopedics, 23% for neurosurgery, 8% for oncology, 8% for ophthalmology, and that 95% of denied permit applications were for appointments at hospitals in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

A total of 637 patient applications (350 male; 287 female), or 32% of the total, were delayed access to care, receiving no definitive response to their application by the date of their hospital appointment. Of these, 144 applications were for children under the age of 18 and 77 applications were for patients aged 60 years or older.

It said 19% of those delayed had appointments for oncology, 14% orthopedics and 9% for ophthalmology. The remaining (58%) were for 21 other specialties.

Regarding health access for those injured during March of Return demonstrations, 15 permit applications (0.7% of the total) in March were for those injured during demonstrations. Two applications were approved; two denied; and 11 delayed. The approval rate for those injured in demonstrations is significantly lower than the overall approval rate.

As of 31 March, according to Gaza’s Coordination and Liaison Office, there have been 524 applications to Israeli authorities by those injured in demonstrations to exit Gaza via Erez crossing for health care. Of those applications, 92 (18%) were approved, 141 (27%) were denied and 291 (55%) were delayed.

A 48-year-old man with bladder cancer was requested for security interrogation at Erez crossing as a prerequisite to travel for health care. He had been referred for an isotope scan not available in Gaza. His application was delayed, receiving no definitive response by the date of his appointment, said WHO.

Regarding patient companions, 1,153 (53%) patient companion applications were approved, 120 applications (5%) were denied and the remaining 918 (42%) were delayed, receiving no definitive response by the time of the patient’s appointment.