Muhammad Haider suffers from mental disorders and nervous convulsions in the evening hours. The man, who is forty years old, visited the Gaza Mental Health Hospital, in the Nasr neighborhood in central Gaza City, for the first time two months ago, and he felt fear at the time. to receive patients.
Muhammad Haider needed to move from the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip to the center of Gaza City; For a specialist doctor to diagnose his condition given that he had passed through the condition within two months after the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza in May of this year. But that trip Haider considered a difficult experience and caused him great fears of psychological treatment, so that his wife, who was accompanying him, preferred not to go to the hospital again.
Haider says: “Look at the majority of the Gaza Strip community, they do not encourage psychological treatment. When someone talks about mental illness, we imagine in our thoughts that it is a characteristic of discrimination and shame, and that it is a disease that cannot be cured. From my experience, I did not find psychological treatment a good thing in the Gaza Strip and I felt more frustrated, I’ve even been affected by taking medication for a month and I’m not sticking to treatment at the moment.”
Haidar did not feel better after two months of treatment, as he gets medicines from a nearby government clinic in the town of Beit Hanoun twice a month, but he needs every period to see a doctor at the Gaza Mental Health Hospital, but he was not encouraged to go again as he intended, and he feels afraid that His mental state remained the same.
In the Gaza Strip, there is one hospital for mental and neurological health, which is governmental, and it is not sufficient to accommodate mental and neurological diseases. Despite the interventions of civil society institutions and the Gaza Mental Health Program, it is considered one of the areas most in need of expansion and renewal in light of the escalating wars and the causes of the highest psychological crises in the world, according to psychological and social specialists.
The hospital serves all governorates of the Gaza Strip. It was built in 1980 on an area of 6000 square meters in the Nasr neighborhood in the center of Gaza City. However, as the hospital’s information indicates, its maximum capacity is only 50 beds, distributed among men’s, women’s and children’s departments, in addition to a clinic for addicts. It is also the only one in the Gaza Strip.
The hospital has 39 medical staff, including 16 doctors and 26 psychologists. The Ministry of Health in Gaza published statistical reports of the most important achievements of the Ministry of Health in 2020, indicating that the incidence of mental illnesses increased in 2020, by 62% compared to the previous year, where depression had the largest share of the prevalence, followed by mental disorders, then schizophrenia.
The hospital serves all governorates of the Gaza Strip and employs 39 medical staff, including 16 doctors and 26 psychiatrists.
A report by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza states, “More than 90,000 visits and visits to the psychiatric hospital and psychiatric clinics were recorded during the past year in the governorates of the Gaza Strip, and it was considered that the age group of “30-39” years is the most vulnerable to mental disorders by 35%, followed by Arab category “20 – 29” years old.
Gaza environment in terms of depression
Psychiatrist and neurologist Baha Issa notes that the environment of the Gaza Strip has one of the highest in the world in terms of the incidence of depression during the past year, and he believes that all Gazans have developed psychological symptoms during the recent Israeli attacks, as well as as a result of the pressures caused by power cuts and poor services The general situation, the difficult economic conditions, and the failure to change the reality after the recent Israeli attacks, despite the hopes that were overwhelmed by them following the ceasefire on May 21 this year.
Issa praises the role of civil society institutions in the work of psychological discharge projects, as well as the Gaza Mental Health Program, which has been working for thirty years to support mental health. There are healthy swabs for psychotherapy.
Issa says, “Gaza needs to open up to the outside world so that there is a cultural exchange and then the general psychological atmosphere improves. Also, as a result of the population density, the psychological pressures that are exacerbated by the difficult political, social and economic conditions increase. Mental illness patients in Gaza are more likely to develop a psychological condition into chronic mental illnesses.” And this happened with 40% of the cases it treated, due to the lack of health hospitals with full facilities, in addition to the failure to improve the general conditions.”
A hospital lacking the basics
Head of the Mental Health Services Development Department, Hisham Al Mudallal, notes the many obstacles that stand in front of them in developing the only psychiatric hospital in the Gaza Strip. , which the spoiler deems to be not properly equipped.
Al-Mudallal points out that the medical sector in the Gaza Strip suffers most days of the year from shortages of medicines, equipment and medical staff, to the extent that patients faced shortages in their medicines that they receive periodically, and there were demands to establish a hospital in the city of Rafah to meet the needs of a quarter of a million citizens in Rafah. In Gaza, the provision of Qatari support for the construction of the hospital, which went into effect a month ago.
The seashore is the only outlet for Gazans to escape from the psychological conditions surrounding them
Hisham al-Mudallal says, “Most of the projects for developing the health sector, centers and hospitals in the Gaza Strip for more than ten years have depended on international support. “.
Jamil Al-Najjar (50 years old) hopes for an improvement in the reality of psychotherapy in the Gaza Strip. He is the father of a 30-year-old man who suffers from schizophrenia. His son has been receiving treatment for 7 years, and sometimes one or two types of medication stop him, but his psychological condition worsened over the years, as the father notes. The son received treatment in the hospital, but he did not improve from the state of violence most of the time, while his condition returned to stability in their home.
Al-Najjar is disturbed by the lack of separation in the hospital between patients with different mental conditions, for example between patients showing signs of violence and other patients in stable conditions. Likewise, when he goes for a medical examination with his son, he finds everyone waiting to enter the doctor without any arrangement or order in the hospital, and he hopes that the reality of psychological treatment in the Gaza Strip will improve so that he goes to a hospital that is better than the current one and is properly prepared.
Gaza – Amjad Yaghi