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Cablegate: H1n1 Arrives in Gaza Despite Closure Policy

VZCZCXRO2785
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2238 3441439
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101439Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6938
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 002238

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR NEA/IPA; OES/IB FOR PATTERSON; DEPT PASS TO USAID
FOR ANE/MEA:MCCLOUD/BORODIN; HHS FOR CDC AND OGHA; NSC FOR
KUMAR; JOINT STAFF FOR LTGEN SELVA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU EAGR EAID ECON KWBG SENV
SUBJECT: H1N1 ARRIVES IN GAZA DESPITE CLOSURE POLICY

1. (SBU) Summary. On December 6, the de facto Hamas
authorities in Gaza announced the first confirmed cases of
the H1N1 virus. As of the evening of December 8, health
workers confirmed 21 cases of H1N1 in Gaza, including five
fatalities. End summary.

2. (SBU) On December 6, the Hamas "Ministry of Health" (MOH)
in Gaza announced the first confirmed cases of the H1N1 virus
in the coastal strip. According to the World Health
Organization (WHO) representative in Gaza, Mahmoud Daher, the
Hamas MOH confirmed 21 cases, including five fatalities, by
the evening of December 8. Four of the victims that died
were already suffering from underlying illnesses, such as
respiratory failure. The fifth death was a child of 15
months who arrived at a pediatric hospital in critical
condition and was admitted into the intensive care unit.
Eight of the confirmed H1N1 cases were released from the
hospital to recover at home. Daher said that the "spread of
H1N1 in Gaza is increasing."

3. (SBU) The Hamas MOH identified three isolation units at Al
Shifa Hospital and Pediatric Hospital, both in Gaza City, and
Gaza European Hospital in Khan Yunis. The Hamas MOH
protocols dictate that all complicated cases are treated at
hospitals in isolation and the remaining cases recover at
home. Daher said that the capacity for treatment was decent
in the three isolation units. According to Daher, the
Government of Israel (GOI) said that it would accept all
suspected and confirmed H1N1 cases for treatment.

4. (SBU) The MOH of the Palestinian Authority (PA) previously
shipped 6,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine to Gaza. Five
thousand doses were given to Hajj pilgrims before their
departure to Mecca in the last two months, and 1,000 doses
were given to health care workers in the last few days. Dr.
Mugo Muita of the WHO in Jerusalem told post that the H1N1
cases in Gaza did not include Hajj pilgrims or anyone who
recently traveled outside the strip. The Israeli military
issued a press release on December 7, falsely stating that it
had transferred 10,000 doses into Gaza. The priority
recipients for the vaccine are health workers, children
between one and three-years old, pregnant women, and persons
with chronic diseases. Approximately 8,000 health
professionals work in the Hamas MOH, and there are a few
thousand additional health workers among NGOs and UNRWA. The
PA MOH in Ramallah has a contract with pharmaceutical maker
GlaxoSmithKline to purchase one million doses of the H1N1
vaccine, to arrive in the West Bank in three tranches in
mid-December, mid January and mid-February. Dr. Asad
Ramlawi, Director General for Primary Health Care of the PA
MOH, reported that the PA would transfer 150,000 doses of the
vaccine to Gaza from its first shipment. The Hamas MOH has
6,300 treatment courses of Tamiflu (10 tablets per course)
for H1N1 patients.

5. (SBU) Separately, the central drug store in Gaza currently
is out of stock of 75 essential medicines. The shortage of
medicine in Gaza is a chronic problem largely due to lack of
capacity within the PA in Ramallah; the GOI generally allows
medicines and medical supplies into Gaza. Daher said that
the PA agreed to provide more medicines this week, and that
the breakout of H1N1 in Gaza prompted the PA to be more
"proactive" in its supply of medicines.

6. (SBU) Daher reported that the WHO met with the Israeli MOH
this week and emphasized the lack of capacity in the Gaza
health care system due to the closure policy and
deteriorating infrastructure, with increased stress from
population growth.
RUBINSTEIN

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