As a preventative measure to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip, local authorities have been imposing mandatory quarantines since mid-March on all Gazans returning from abroad. By 10 April 2020, hundreds of individuals had completed the required quarantine period and returned to their homes, while another 780 citizens remained in the centers.
Al Mezan is closely observing the situation of citizens held inside the quarantine centers, and has received several complaints from quarantined citizens regarding their right to health in particular. In some cases, essential drugs were not made available as required, notably for patients returning to Gaza through Erez crossing. Others complained about a shortage in gluten-free food needed for children with celiac disease. Some citizens also complained to Al Mezan about having been kept inside the quarantine centers after having completed the required stay, without being informed by the authorities as to when they could leave.
Al Mezan was able to address these complaints in collaboration with international and local NGOs. For instance, gluten-free food was provided to gluten-sensitive children through Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) in coordination with Ard El Insan Palestinian Association. Further, Al Mezan reached out to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, which in turn clarified that the delay in evacuating the quarantine centers was attributed to a lack of test kits and equipment, meaning, that the samples taken from individuals inside the quarantine centers had not yet been fully examined. Relatedly, the General Authority of Civil Affairs helped to re-schedule a hospital appointment outside Gaza for a patient that required specialist care.
Further collaboration between governmental institutions, NGOs, the private sector and grassroots organizations should be initiated, particularly in view of filling the gaps in services and ensuring the right to health of residents.