CORRECTED-Gaza children get foreign treatment at home

14/04/2008 - 17:19

Fixes name in paragraph 6 and 8)

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

JABALYA CAMP, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - An Australian surgeonoperated on Monday on Palestinian children in need of careunavailable in the Gaza Strip or not readily attainableelsewhere due to Israeli restrictions on the Hamas-ruled area.

Dr. Paddy Dewan, an Australian sent to the Gaza Strip bythe Kind Cuts for Kids Foundation, said patients requiringspecialist treatment and local doctors and nurses in need ofadvanced training lent urgency to a 10-day mission he describedas "overwhelming".

"I am teaching nurses and doctors how to look after thosepatients. They are fast learners," Dewan told Reuters insidethe surgery room with two Palestinian assistant doctors.

In one life-saving operation, Dewan removed a blockage thatwas stopping a two-day-old Palestinian baby from ingesting.

So far Dewan has operated on nearly 15 children and seen250 patients in al-Awda hospital in Jabalya refugee camp, where100,000 people live, in the northern Gaza Strip.

"Most of the cases Dr. Dewan has seen have been referred tohim by Palestinian specialist doctors," said Reyad al-Adassi, aPalestinian health official coordinating the visit.

"Those doctors either could not do the surgery or operatedon the patients and there were setbacks and complications," hesaid.

"A big part of these cases were to have been transferredout of Gaza, but many families could not get an Israeli permit,so they rushed over to us," Adassi said.

Israel tightened travel restrictions on Gazans after HamasIslamists, who have rejected Western demands to recogniseIsrael and renounce violence, wrested control of the Gaza Stripfrom Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement inJune.

The northern Gaza Strip, where militants have beenlaunching rockets against Israel, has been a frequent target ofIsraeli military raids.

The World Health Organisation has said Israel has turnedaway more sick Palestinians from the Gaza Strip seekingtreatment since Hamas seized control and several have died eachmonth unnecessarily.

Israel has not provided figures for how many sick Gazanswere granted permits last year. It has stressed it was stillcoordinating the transfer of Palestinian patients from Gazainto Israel "even under fire and under threats."

Thousands of Palestinians have been treated in the Jewishstate over the years.

(Editing by Stephen Weeks)

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