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The Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) will hold an emergency session on December 10 to discuss the health crisis in Gaza and the West Bank, while the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Ibrahim Khreisheh, is seeking to increase medical aid and the entry of foreign health care workers to the Strip.

The organization confirmed on Monday that it had received a request from 15 countries to hold the session, which will be moderated by the organization's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in consultation with the council's Qatari president.

Khreisheh said the meeting would focus mostly on Gaza, but would also address attacks on the health sector in the West Bank.

"We want to strengthen the position of the WHO, and we call on Israel not to target the medical sector. We want to allow in new medical supplies," he said, adding that the Palestinian diplomatic mission was drafting a proposal for review by the council.

"One idea is to send more doctors from all over the world." The Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) has observer status in the World Health Organization (WHO), not a full member state, but has influence in the organization through its supporters.

Only a limited number of hospitals in Gaza are able to continue operating, due to shelling and fuel shortages, and these functioning hospitals are increasingly overcrowded by a new wave of wounded.

Spread of diseases

A World Health Organization database shows that Gaza's healthcare facilities have been hit by 427 attacks since Israel's bombardment and ground invasion since Oct. 7.

The World Health Organization has also warned of the spread of diseases, which it said could kill more people than bombardment in Gaza, with diarrhoea cases among children rising to nearly 100 times higher than normal levels.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said up to 80 percent of Gazans had fled their homes.

The WHO Governing Council consists of 34 members and usually meets in January each year to set the agenda for its annual meeting. The United States, Qatar, Senegal, Australia and China are among the countries currently holding seats on the Council.

Source: Al Jazeera + Reuters