Thu, 26 May 2022

© Provided by Xinhua

GAZA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- For several months, Mahdy Abu Harbid, a thalassemia patient from the Gaza Strip's northern town of Beit Hanoun, has been in a desperate plight as a result of insufficient medicine.

Born with the disease, the 22-year-old man has to take at least four doses of deferoxamine, or desferal, on a daily basis to lead a normal life. However, his treatment has been suspended for at least six months since the health ministry told him the medicine was not enough.

© Provided by Xinhua

Over the six months, with the interruption of desferal treatment, Abu Harbid has been suffering from an enlarged liver, the weak heart muscle, osteoporosis, and a change in skin color as a result of an increase in the iron content in his body.

"I went to hospitals to get treatment for thalassemia, but I got nothing," the young man told Xinhua, adding the interruption of the treatment caused "blackness in the face, a bleeding nose and tooth loss."

"At times I felt I would soon lose my life," Harbid lamented.

His situation was not much different from that of Sawsan al-Masri, a 30-year-old woman from the same town in Gaza. Like three of her siblings suffering from thalassemia since birth, she had to receive special treatment, but her health deteriorated following the shortage in the needed medicine.

© Provided by Xinhua

Noting the cut-off of treatment for thalassemia patients in Gaza, al-Masri called on the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in the Palestinian enclave to provide necessary therapies.

Abu Harbid and al-Masri are among more than 300 thalassemia patients in Gaza whose lives are in danger.

According to doctors, people are infected with thalassemia due to a genetic mutation in the DNA of the cells that make up hemoglobin. The disease, transmitted genetically from parents to children, causes disruption of the production of natural hemoglobin, a decrease in its percentage, and a high rate of red blood cell damage.

Alaa Helles, director of the department of pharmacy in the health ministry's hospitals, told Xinhua that 317 patients, including children, suffer from a lack of treatment and medical supplies.

The ministry classifies thalassemia patients as "fragile segments," requiring continuous and permanent treatment, he noted.

© Provided by Xinhua

According to the official, medicine is mainly provided from three sources, 20 percent from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, 40 percent from medical institutions, and 20 percent from the health ministry in Gaza.

However, the medicine treating thalassemia patients has run out from the ministry's warehouses, Helles said, adding the crisis will probably continue until the end of next month with the lack of supply.

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