July 15, 2024

Vita Nectar

Health is the main investment in life

More than 80 children and cancer patients evacuated from Gaza arrive in UAE

3 min read

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“The journey for my mother has been difficult,” Ahmed Marwan Al Siyam told The National from the tarmac of Abu Dhabi International Airport after a plane carrying 88 cancer patients and children reached the UAE capital.

“We were afraid of losing her after her cancer treatment all but stopped a few weeks ago because of the war.”

Mr Al Siyam’s mother, Ibtisam Al Siyam, was part of the third group of cancer patients and children to be evacuated from the besieged Gaza Strip as the war with Israel continues.

“Thankfully, because of the UAE’s initiative, she’ll get a fighting chance,” Mr Al Siyam said. “She is determined to live long enough not just for us and her grandchildren, but also to return to her beloved Gaza once this war is over.”

The Etihad Airways’ Boeing-777 was also carrying 20 children who were severely injured by Israeli bombardments.

A team of more than 40 doctors and nurses from the UAE’s Burjeel Hospital, NMC Royal Hospital and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City was on board.

Ms Al Siyam says she discovered she had cancer several months ago and was just beginning chemotherapy treatment at the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital in Gaza before the war with Israel erupted on October 7.

“My children were very worried about my treatments stopping. I was going through my regular check-ups at the Turkish Hospital and did one round of chemotherapy before the war erupted. We couldn’t risk even going to the hospital any more since the area was not even close to our home in Gaza,” she said.

“At first, they told us there was a possibility to evacuate us to Turkey, but my son then told me the good news that we would be going to the UAE. I much prefer to get treatment here than Turkey because the Emiratis and Palestinians speak one language.”

Operations at Gaza’s only hospital for cancer treatment, with 10,000 registered patients, have been disrupted by Israeli air strikes since the war began, the director of the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital told The National last month.

The Palestinians were able to cross the Rafah border with Egypt early on Monday on the last day of a four-day truce agreed on last week. The temporary truce is the first halt in fighting in the seven weeks since Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages to Gaza.

In response, Israel has bombarded the enclave and mounted a ground offensive in the north. More than 14,800 Palestinians have been killed, Gaza health authorities say, and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The first batch of injured children from Gaza arrived in the UAE on November 18, 15 in dire need of medical assistance, suffering from severe injuries or burns, and others with cancer.

The second batch arrived at Abu Dhabi International Airport on November 24, carrying Palestinian children and their families, as part of the directive of President Sheikh Mohammed for the UAE to receive 1,000 children from Gaza for treatment. Another 1,000 children who are suffering from cancer were added as part of the UAE’s humanitarian initiative.

“Having received the first three groups of Palestinian children and older patients from Gaza, and their families, we emphasise the preparedness of the healthcare sector to provide the required medical care through specialised healthcare facilities,” Dr Noura Al Ghaithi, Undersecretary of Health – Abu Dhabi, told The National.

“Where needed, diagnosis and care will be provided based on their health conditions and needs then following up with them until they fully recover, God willing.”

As well as accepting and treating evacuated patients from Gaza, the UAE has also been able to send the necessary equipment to establish a field hospital in the besieged enclave via the Rafah border in Egypt over the past two days during the temporary four-day truce.

The hospital will have 150 beds, as well as general surgery orthopaedics, paediatrics, and gynaecology units. It will also have clinics for dentistry, physiatry and family medicine.

Updated: November 28, 2023, 5:32 AM


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