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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Inside Gaza’s first limb reconstruction centre

A blockade and recurring violence have put relentless pressure on the health system in the Gaza Strip.

Since the Great March of Return protests in March 2018, thousands of Gazans have suffered gunshot wounds. This is a huge trauma burden on the fragile health system.  

When specialist care is missing, gunshot victims often risk limb amputation. Very few people are allowed to travel outside of Gaza to get such care.

Mayada was lucky to get the treatment she needed to save her leg at Gaza’s first Limb Reconstruction Centre. With EU humanitarian support,  the World Health Organization and Palestine Health Ministry launched this centre of excellence in 2020 for the treatment of gunshot wounds.

Over 80% of Gaza’s population is aid-dependent.

Story by Anouk Delafortrie, Regional Information Officer for Middle East and Northern Africa, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

Mayada and her children in a bedroom on the left a walk assist
Mayada got shot in the leg during a fight. After 5 surgeries, doctors managed to save her leg although her left leg is now shorter. Gunshot injuries require around 4 to 5 specialised surgeries as nerve, bone, and muscle tissue need separate operations.
© European Union, 2021
Mayada and her 3 children in close-up photo
“Sometimes, I feel powerless but I want to feel healthy and strong again so I can be present in my children’s lives,” says Mayada. Full recovery requires intensive and expensive medicine for both pain and mental health, and can take up to 2 years.
© European Union, 2021 (photographer: Anas Baba)
Mayada walking with crutches in a hall way of the Limb Reconstruction Centre
The Limb Reconstruction Centre in Gaza provides post-traumatic care and psychosocial support. Mayada returns regularly for both.
© European Union, 2021 (photographer: Anas Baba)
Mayada wearing a custom-made shoe
Mayada is wearing a custom-made shoe to compensate for the difference in height between her legs. Although she lost 6 cm in length on her left leg, she is grateful she did not lose it altogether and was able to get specialised care in Gaza.
© European Union, 2021 (photographer: Anas Baba)
A nurse holding Mayada's foot in a hospital room
The centre at Nasser hospital, in Khan Younis, received kick-start EU humanitarian funding. It employs dedicated surgeons and other staff, has 2 operating theatres, and provides mental health support and rehabilitation on the same ward.
© European Union, 2021 (photographer: Anas Baba)
Mayada doing walking exercises assisted by a nurse
Mayada wants to walk again without crutches. She has physiotherapy 3 times a week and has progressed well by sticking to a strict exercise regime.
© European Union, 2021 (photographer: Anas Baba)
Mayada wearing her custom made shoe while walking with crutches in the hospital hall way
Thanks to the Limb Reconstruction Centre, many amputations can be prevented in Gaza. Limbs are saved, and with the necessary care people can return to their activities and get on with their lives.
© European Union, 2021 (photographer: Anas Baba)
Mayada standing at an information desk of the hospital
Gaza’s economy and health care are extremely deteriorated. People are trapped in a circle of poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity. Preventing disability in this context and helping people to function as before is extremely important.
© European Union, 2021 (photographer: Anas Baba)
Mayada smiling at the camera while standing at the information desk of the hospital
“I am very grateful. I was not expecting such services in Gaza. I was trying to travel abroad for treatment, but I found what I needed here. I consider the centre as my family. They helped me with my new-born baby, with COVID and the injury,” says Mayada.
© European Union, 2021 (photographer: Anas Baba)

Publication date: 19/05/2022