In the face of danger and dire circumstances, healthcare workers in Gaza are displaying unwavering courage, compassion, and dedication to their patients. Dr. Hammam Alloh, the last nephrologist at Al-Shifa Hospital, exemplified this commitment when he chose to stay and care for his patients despite the imminent threat to his own life.
The situation in Gaza is troubling, with limited access to electricity, water, and basic necessities. The Israeli military has even breached the sanctity of hospitals, alleging their association with Hamas. This has left healthcare workers isolated, cut off from communication with the outside world. Despite these challenges, their determination to provide healthcare remains unyielding.
As healthcare professionals in the United States, we are deeply moved by the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. Our daily interactions with refugees and asylum seekers from various nations have made us acutely aware of the impact of oppression and violence on physical and mental health. We unequivocally state that no one should ever have to endure such suffering. Yet, our silence regarding the ongoing atrocities in Gaza raises questions about the value we place on Palestinian lives.
It is our duty as healthcare providers to advocate for the health and well-being of all individuals, regardless of their background. If we only express concern for patients once they become refugees, we fail to uphold our moral obligations. The children of Gaza are witnessing the loss of their loved ones, and the world’s inaction sends a devastating message about their worth.
Burnout among healthcare professionals often arises from a sense of moral injury when we are unable to address the root causes of our patients’ suffering. At times, we can only offer limited care, too late to make a significant difference. We acknowledge the structural racism and intergenerational trauma that contribute to these injustices, but we strive for a world where trauma is prevented rather than treated.
It is imperative that we, as healthcare professionals, use our voices and expertise to demand immediate action. Our institutions and public representatives must work towards a ceasefire to end this humanitarian crisis. Being neutral or silent is no longer an option. The recent statement from the American Medical Association missed a crucial opportunity to fulfill our moral obligations.
Let us reflect on the words of Dr. Hammam Alloh and the bravery shown by healthcare workers in Gaza. As healthcare professionals, we pledged to dedicate our lives to the service of humanity. We must now honor that commitment by standing up for the humanity of Palestinians and opposing this genocide. If we don’t advocate for the lives and well-being of Palestinians, who will stand for our own patients?