Thousands of doses of vaccines against childhood diseases have started to be delivered into the Gaza Strip to support a growing health emergency in the region, the Palestinian health ministry in the Hamas-controlled government announced Monday.
The vaccines to treat childhood diseases, including polio and measles, are estimated to be enough to cover vaccinations for between 8 and 14 months, according to the health ministry.
Israeli forces' ground offensive into Gaza amid its war against Hamas terrorists has effectively stopped normal health services in Gaza, including vaccinations against highly contagious childhood diseases that had been under control by mass immunization programs.
The health ministry said supplies had entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with the aid of Egyptian government cold storage facilities.
Israel said Friday it would facilitate the entry of the vaccines into Gaza to help prevent the spread of disease.
Yasser Bouzia, head of international relations at the health ministry in Ramallah, said there were an estimated 60,000 newborn babies in Gaza who would typically receive vaccinations but have instead been largely cut off from medical services.
Bouzia said administering the vaccines would be difficult because hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza had been displaced from their homes and are living in tents or other temporary housing.
The ministry said that vaccines against diseases including rubella, polio, measles and mumps come from supplies either purchased by the Palestinian health ministry or donated by UNICEF, otherwise known as the United Nations Children's Fund.
Reuters contributed to this report.