Impending Cholera, Typhoid Wave Threatens Gaza

Outbreaks of infectious diseases are more likely when there is a lack of clean water, health and sanitation services are disrupted, and health agencies warn that there is an impending cholera and typhoid wave in Gaza.

Health groups are alerting the Gaza Strip's population to an impending public health emergency due to water and health system outages that increase the likelihood of disease epidemics.

On November 9, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned about the unavoidable spread of waterborne diseases, including cholera and typhoid, due to unsanitary conditions and polluted water sources.

A bacterial ailment known as cholera is brought on by tainted food or drink. Another bacterial infection is typhoid, which is typically brought on by a lack of hygiene and improper hand and clothing washing practices but can also occur from tainted food and water.

According to the IRC, 95% of Gaza's population lacks access to clean water, and 64% of the country's key healthcare institutions are closed while Israel continues its deadly bombing campaign.

"The conditions are ripe for the spread of communicable and waterborne diseases — diseases that adversely affect children and lead to preventable deaths," said Bob Kitchen, the IRC's Vice President of Emergencies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning on November 6, stating that fuel scarcity has prompted desalination facilities to close and interrupt waste collection, resulting in a significant spike in the spread of bacterial diseases, including diarrhea.

More than 33,551 instances of diarrhea have been documented since mid-October 2023.

Compared to an average of 2,000 cases per month among children under five throughout 2021 and 2022, over half of these are among children under five.

There have also been reports of 12,635 instances of skin rash, 1,005 cases of chickenpox, 8,944 cases of scabies and lice, and 54,866 cases of upper respiratory infections.

The WHO warned that the likelihood of an accelerated spread of disease is further increased by interrupted routine immunization programs and a shortage of medications to treat infectious diseases.

Both the WHO and IRC have emphasized that humanitarian aid must halt for supplies to enter the Gaza Strip, where Israel has been launching strikes for over a month in reprisal for the October 7 attack against Israel by Hamas terrorists.

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