Diarrhea, chickenpox, scabies and upper respiratory infections are rampant in a “very concerning” emergence of disease, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, adding that younger children and immunocompromised people were at particular risk.
Since mid-October, more than 33,500 cases of diarrhea have been reported, more than half of them among children younger than 5, the group said. Before the war, there were on average 2,000 monthly cases of diarrhea among children of that age, according to the organization.
In recent weeks, nearly 9,000 cases of scabies and lice, more than 12,600 cases of skin rash and nearly 55,000 cases of upper respiratory infections have proliferated in the densely packed territory, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people have crammed into United Nations-run shelters, the W.H.O. said.
Aid agencies estimate that 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. How many will have homes to return to is unclear; the United Nations estimates that almost half the housing in the territory has been damaged or destroyed.
With fuel and medicine running dry, Gaza’s health care system is collapsing. Doctors are being forced to stretch paltry resources to treat the sick and injured and make impossible choices on who lives and who dies.
The U.N. office on humanitarian affairs said that by Thursday, all of the Gaza Strip’s 120 municipal water wells were expected to shut down as fuel depleted. Water entering through the border with Egypt on aid convoys is only 4 percent of what is needed, the office said in its daily update.
Shelters run by UNRWA, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees, are so overcrowded that an average of 160 people are sharing a toilet and there is one shower for every 700 people, according to the United Nations.