Heat Wave Strains Pharmacist’s Ability to Get Crucial Medicine to Gazans

A heat wave in the Gaza Strip this week, with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit the past few days, has not only made life intolerable for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people trying to rebuild their lives in tent cities but has made it hard for some businesses to operate.

By Saturday, the heat had significantly eased and the forecast was for more moderate temperatures in coming days. But the recent highs offered a vision of what the summer likely holds.

“This hot weather is a challenge for us,” said Mohammed Fayyad, a displaced pharmacist who started selling medications from a tent he built out of wooden slabs, curtains and metal scraps at a camp for displaced people in Al-Mawasi.

With no electricity or alternative sources of power, Mr. Fayyad, 32, said that he could not keep the medicines — which he buys from pharmacies that have had to shut down — stored at cool enough temperatures to keep them from being damaged.

“Fifty percent of the medicines for chronic diseases are not available because we do not have any source of power to keep them cool,” said Mr. Fayyad, speaking from his makeshift pharmacy that he named after his 3-year-old daughter Julia.

Mr. Fayyad is trying to find ways to generate power for a refrigerator to store medication.

“I hope I can find those solar panels, which are very expensive, to make the options wider for the displaced people,” he said.

Mr. Fayyad was displaced with his wife and only daughter from Khan Younis, where they lived and owned a pharmacy. They have been in Al-Mawasi for more than two months. When they recently went back to Khan Younis after the Israeli military withdrew from the area, he found his pharmacy had been burned and looted.

Nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza were forced to flee their homes under Israeli bombardment and military evacuation orders. Many had to live in tents that provided little protection from the cold and rainy months earlier in the war and that offer them no protection against the scalding heat and humid weather now.

Parents across the Gaza Strip are relying on water to keep their children cool when it is already not easy to get. The hot weather is also bringing insects that help spread disease.

“My children were stung by insects and mosquitoes because there is no sanitation around, and sewage is leaking almost everywhere,” said Mohammed Abu Hatab, a father of four, including a 7-month-old. His family has been spending their days outside, under the shade of nylon tents, which trap heat and make the tents more unbearable.

“I had to undress my children to their underwear only,” said Mr. Abu Hatab, 33. He added: “The tent, the heat wave, and the horror of this war are all a nightmare. How can my children live healthily and safely?”

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