THE BLOG

Urgent Health Needs in Gaza

11/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 11/10/2014 10:59 BST

Age International (member of the Disasters and Emergencies Committee) has worked in Gaza since 2009 through its partner HelpAge International. Nader Alfarra, who is a campaigner for HelpAge, recounts his experiences of the last few days living in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

I had to leave my home in the south of Gaza eight days ago because there was shelling all around us.

We haven't had electricity for the last three days and there have been problems with the phone network so it's been difficult to be in contact with people.

Yesterday I started to get stressed and I felt depressed. I was afraid to go out for food but I knew that I had to. My wife Ola is eight months pregnant. The doctor told me to make sure that she eats plenty of nutritious food and that she is as relaxed as possible. I am doing my best to keep calm for my wife's sake, but it is very difficult at the moment.

She is feeling a lot of pain and I am worried that we won't be able to get to the hospital. All the hospitals are overwhelmed with emergencies and normal, everyday health care is just impossible at the moment.

I'm also very worried about my grandma as she struggles to walk and we found it very difficult to move her. Before we had to leave I tried to get as much medicine as possible for her. And I told her to make sure she takes it regularly as she can't afford to be ill. The hospitals are all full.

This conflict is so difficult for older people. I am trying to keep daily contact with all the older people we have been working with. Donia (55) had to leave her house two weeks ago with her disabled son and her 85 year old father. They are now living in one room with 20 other people. She regularly calls me in tears asking for my help.

I speak to people from the Older People's Committees most days. In one village all our members had to leave and most of the houses have been destroyed. It's such a massive upheaval as many of them are part of very large families and have lived in their homes for many years.

More than 60% of older people suffer from chronic diseases in Gaza and we have been providing life-saving health care for thousands. But this has been disrupted because of the conflict and we urgently need to reach people in need. During the last conflict which began in 2008 we provided psycho-social assistance to many older people who had been traumatized by the war and we know that we will have to start this all over again.

Leaders of the Older People's Committees have been in contact with their members and together with a group of our volunteers they are now targeting those with the most urgent needs. They are providing cash for food, medicine and clean water and distributing hygiene items such as soap and washing powder, wheelchairs, crutches and incontinence pads. They are also providing basic food aid, physiotherapy and providing emotional support.

Older people have lived through so much in Gaza and we want to do whatever we can to support them and to improve their lives.

To find out more about the work of the Disasters Emergency Committee and to donate visit www.dec.org.uk