Press release issued by the Ministry of Health on World Cancer Day

Today is World Cancer Day, which falls on the fourth of February every year, we are witnessing the pain and suffering of cancer patients in the besieged Gaza Strip.
More than a year ago, the Ministry of Health gathered oncology services in the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, in addition to the services provided by the Suhaila and Musa Nasser Center in Al-Rantissi Hospital for pediatric oncology patients, and is still seeking to double work in cooperation with civil society partners to provide and enhance the service delivered.

The Ministry of Health, on this occasion, indicates the following:
1. Cancer is considered one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the world, and in the Gaza Strip, where the rate of cancer deaths reached 12.5% of the total deaths for 2021.

2. The incidence of cancer in the Gaza Strip increased during the past six years from 89 cases per 100,000 people to 91.3 cases per 100,000 people in 2021.

3. During the past year, 6,000 oncology patients visited the Turkish Friendship Hospital to receive services, we expect to record about 2,000 new cases during the current year.

4. 72% of the cases are in the age group over 45 years, and children under 18 years represent 6.4% of the total cases.

5. The deaths range between 750-800 deaths annually.

6. Breast cancer is the most common type, accounting for 18.6% of all types of cancer, and 34.3% of all types of cancer affecting females, while colon cancer is the most common type affecting males, with a rate of 14.5%.

7. Leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children and accounts for nearly half of all pediatric tumor cases.

8. The total internal and external medical referrals during 2021 in the Gaza Strip amounted to 6,889 referrals for oncology patients to receive services from service providers not affiliated with the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

9. The shortage of chemotherapy drugs reached 37% of the treatment protocols, and 10% of the medication will expire during the next few weeks, in addition to the acute shortage of analgesics and palliative therapies that relieve the pain of oncology patients.

10. The shortage of radiotherapy and atomic scanning subject hundreds of patients’ lives at stake due to the intransigence of the Israeli occupation and its unjustified refusal to permit more than 33% of patients and 62% of their companions, according to international statistics, which exacerbates the health status of patients and increases their suffering.

The continuation of the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for the seventeenth year in a row caused social, economic, and psychological suffering, especially for these patients, who are subjected to harassment by the occupation by preventing or deliberately delaying the issuance of permits to cross through the Beit Hanoun checkpoint, or detaining them for hours.

The Ministry of Health indicates the following:
Given the recent facts presented, the Ministry of Health indicates the following:

1. The Israeli occupation is the main cause of patients suffering in the Gaza Strip and cancer patients in particular.

2. We call for human rights institutions and humanitarian organizations to pressure the occupation, as it prevents medicine, prevents them from leaving for treatment outside the Gaza Strip, and refuses to bring their medical and diagnostic equipment.

3. We call upon international health and humanitarian institutions to promote lists of therapeutic and medicinal products for cancer patients.

4. The sick prisoners in the occupation prisons are subjected to deliberate medical neglect, especially cancer patients, including the prisoner Walid Abu Daqqa and the prisoner Muhammad Maatan, who were left to slow death, as were the martyr Nasser Abu Hamid and dozens of martyrs who preceded him.

5. The world celebrates this occasion holding the slogan of “bridging the health care gap”, and we see that the gap is becoming wider between cancer patients in Gaza and prisoners in Israeli prisons, and the opportunity for them to complete treatment before it is too late.

Palestinian Ministry of Health – Gaza Strip
February 5, 2023