Four months on from the conflict, patients and counsellors discuss post-traumatic stress in Gaza

28 February 2013

4 March 2013
Jabalia, Gaza

UNRWA’s health centre in Jabalia, northern Gaza, receives some 2,000 patients a day. The centre was badly damaged during the November fighting when the police station nearby was hit by an Israeli strike.

The centre was quickly rebuilt by UNRWA staff, and has been a crucial element of UNRWA’s response to the mental illness epidemic that has followed the fighting in Gaza.

"Everyone was screaming..." 

At a session, Amani Bassam el-Kelani, 24, and her son Mohammed, aged three and a half, talk to their counsellor about their trauma during the fighting.

 

Ahmed Saleh is the proud father of a young son, Mohammed. They live in Jabalia refugee camp. Before the war, Mohammed was a well-behaved child; but now his behaviour is badly disturbed, as they describe to their counsellor.

Meet the counsellors

Mona Naeem Ali has five children of her own and has been a counsellor since 1999. She has worked in schools and clinics across Gaza, and makes regular home visits as part of UNRWA’s mental health programme. How did the latest fighting affect her professional life? 

 

Mohammed Shahin is 33 and married with two children. He has been an UNRWA counselor for seven years. A clinical psychologist, his job is to make weekly visits to the UNRWA clinics in the north of Gaza and support the staff there. 

Meet key staff at UNRWA’s Jabalia health centre

Dr Taisier el Amassia is the senior medical officer at the health centre. As soon as the fighting started in November 2012, Taisier and other workers came straight to the centre and prepared for a large influx of patients; minutes later, the centre was hit by an airstrike. 

 

Ahlan Saleh is the senior staff nurse. On the first day of the war, she and her team met to discuss ways to recognise and treat psychological trauma better. She talks about the realities of being a mother, a wife and a nurse.

 

Ghada al Jadba is UNRWA’s area health officer for Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip, the areas most affected by the fighting in November. She lives just in front of the football stadium in Gaza, which was bombed during the conflict.

Ghada supervises six health centres serving some 350,000 people. As she explains, this latest round of fighting in November 2012 was much harder for people to deal with than the last. 

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UNRWA needs funds urgently to continue providing quality health care to patients in Gaza and elsewhere. Read a message from Akhiro Seita, the director of UNRWA‘s health programme.

Browse a photo gallery of staff and patients in the Jabalia health centre, Gaza

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