NAAMA President’s letter

Amman Conference

Good morning. 

On behalf of the National Arab American Medical Association, I would like to welcome you all and thank you for attending the first international conference dedicated to rebuilding Gaza’s healthcare system. 

The National Arab American Medical Association is as a non-profit, non-political, and non-sectarian organization established in 1975. Our objectives include promoting the professional and cultural identity of our members through engagement in education, philanthropy, and service activities. We aim to serve as the voice of Arab American medical healthcare professionals, and to mobilize our collective expertise and resources to improve the health and well-being of our communities.

Today, it is our responsibility and moral obligation to address the collapsed healthcare system in Gaza. In partnership with the Jordan Medical Association and in collaboration with numerous health and humanitarian organizations worldwide, we are dedicated to rebuilding Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure. The focus of this conference is to assess the needs and requirements to reconstruct Gaza’s health sector, ensuring it meets international standards of quality care as set forth by the World Health Organization. 

The state of Gaza’s health system, which was already suboptimal from years of Israeli occupation and blockade, is now in a dire state, and worsening every day. The latest updates show: 

  • 30 out of 36 hospitals and 53 healthcare centers rendered non-operational.
  • 122 ambulances destroyed.
  • 339 medical staff members killed and 350 injured.
  • 99 healthcare personnel detained by Israeli forces.

The humanitarian toll is incredibly grim and severe in nature. Israel has killed more than 27,000 Palestinians in Gaza. More than 70,000 are seriously injured, with 11,000 in critical conditions requiring urgent treatment. 1.8 million Palestinians have been internally-displaced, seeking shelter in crowded shelters and refugee camps with poor conditions with no access to food, clean water, medicine, or sanitation products. Infectious diseases have spread to 700,000, with 8,000 cases of viral hepatitis pose additional health threats. Severe health risks exist for 60,000 pregnant women, with a sharp rise in miscarriages and post-partum complications. There are 350,000 patients with chronic diseases and 10,000 cancer patients suffering from an intentional lack of medications. 

These are not just numbers, but real people suffering who need immediate help. Surgeons are performing amputations without anesthetics; medical personnel are treating the wounded with no antiseptics. The urgency to aid those injured, infected, and vulnerable in Gaza cannot be overstated. Immediate actions, including a ceasefire and safe entry for healthcare personnel and medical supplies, are crucial. The urgent deployment of field and floating hospitals is also necessary to meet immediate essential medical care. 

As medical professionals, it is not enough to just “do no harm” to our own patients, but is our duty as members of the healthcare field to intervene in moments of inhumanity. 

As we all gather here today setting forth a plan to rebuild Gaza’s healthcare system, we anticipate a productive and immediate outcome from this conference. 

Thank you all for attending, and I look forward to working with you all in the upcoming days.   

Mahmoud Aqel, MD, PhD, MBA

NAAMA National President 2024

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