When Muhammad Al-Khalidi decided to set up a factory to manufacture prosthetic limbs in the Gaza Strip in 2015 he had no idea that everything he needed to get his business running was out of reach.
Israel’s strict siege meant much of the equipment he needed could not be brought into the enclave and there was no way to form the shape of the limbs using traditional techniques.
The now 33-year-old who had graduated just years earlier with a degree in Medical Engineering, decided to find solutions to the problems he faced.
“I was surprised by the problems, including the high costs involved and the occupation’s prevention of equipment from entering” Gaza, Mohammed tells MEMO.
He needed a medical oven and a vacuum to provide suction to create the moulds and forms of the limbs required.
“I started communicating with friends, engineers and experts in the field abroad and by researching, I found that I could devise alternatives to these equipment with home-made apparatus, and indeed I created a local device that performs the same work as the vacuum device and gave exactly the same results, and replaced the medical furnace needed for the manufacture and shaping of materials.”
He continued to experiment to try to find a way around the blockade and came across alternative raw materials which he could use to create the limbs, and which were available in the Strip.
Mohammed found he was able to produce artificial limbs which comply with international specifications, while saving more than 60 per cent of the cost of imported goods needed for the trade. This, he hopes, will allow a greater number of patients to access medical care as the financial situation of families in Gaza is difficult.
Once fitted with their new limbs, patients are sent to the orthopaedics and physiotherapy departments to train and learn how to use their new prosthetic.
Rights groups estimate that there are currently 3,000 people in Gaza who have suffered an amputation and require a prosthetic limb and aftercare.