RAMALLAH, Sunday, September 21, 2019 (WAFA) – Minister of Health, Mai Alkaila, warned late yesterday that a possible power outage, expected to be initiated by Israel, in the West Bank governorates of Ramallah and Bethlehem may put the lives of dozens of patients at risk, as such outage may cause damage to refrigerated medications.
Last week, the Palestinian-owned Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) said it received a third warning from the Israeli Electricity Company (IEC) informing it that it will start rationing or cutting electricity supply to some of the company‘s concession areas on the 22nd of this month from 10 am to 12 noon local time in the cities and districts of Ramallah and Bethlehem, and on the 23rd from 12 noon until 2:00 p.m. on parts of Ramallah and Jericho and their area villages.
Alkaila said such blackout may also cause harm to a large segment of the population in these governorates, as it affects the validity of hundreds of products and food parcels that require refrigeration or freezing.
In addition, she added, the power outage “may affect medications and vaccines kept in the refrigerators of the health centers and health care clinics.”
“Any power outage on the refrigerators and vaccines of the health centers will damage them and affect their effectiveness, especially those medicines kept at low temperatures. Some of them require permanent freezing during the storing period,” Alkaila continued.
She said any power outage by IEC will certainly affect the validity of children’s vaccines, “as most vaccines are stored at temperatures between 2-8°C, and there are a number of vaccines that need freezing at temperatures as low as minus 20°C, such as the polio vaccine.”
“One of the most important factors in responding to the effectiveness of vaccines is the cold chain of storing them. This means that administering vaccines that have not been kept in proper temperature will result in them being useless,” the Health Minister emphasized.
She pointed out that JDECO has exerted great efforts to ensure the provision of electricity to the health centers in the cities, but that does not apply to all health centers, as JDECO will not be able to provide all health centers with electricity as a result of the Israeli blackout. “This threatens the lives of all patients who use the services of those centers, especially those of the serious cases.”
Alkaila stressed that the power outage will not only affect patients and medicines, but also goes beyond to refrigerators at homes, shops and shopping malls. “Such outage means that food items that need to be kept at low temperatures are at risk of deterioration.”