SpaceX's Starlink internet service to be introduced at Gaza's Emirati field hospital

Satellite technology to allow for video consultations to be carried out at medical facility

The UAE's field hospital in the Gaza Strip opened in December. Photo: Wam
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The UAE is to introduce SpaceX's Starlink internet service at its field hospital in the Gaza Strip, to provide live video medical consultations to patients in the besieged enclave.

The use of Elon Musk's high-tech satellite system will help healthcare workers deliver crucial care in Gaza, which has been hit by communication cuts since Israeli attacks began on October 7.

Frequent power cuts have also hampered efforts to co-ordinate aid to the Palestinian people facing a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the UAE was working with international partners to deliver the advanced technology at the 150-bed facility, including Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Boston Children's Hospital and Cleveland Clinic Foundation in the US.

The ministry emphasised the importance of providing reliable high-speed internet to support medical care.

How UAE field hospital in Gaza is treating injured Palestinians

How UAE field hospital in Gaza is treating injured Palestinians

The field hospital was established in December to help ease the significant pressure placed on Gaza's health service by a conflict now in its fifth month.

More than 3,500 patients have been treated at the hospital, which is used for general surgery and orthopaedics, while also offering anaesthetic services and intensive care for children and adults. It also offers internal medicine, dentistry, family medicine and psychiatric treatment.

It is being operated with the support of the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, and the Emirates Red Crescent.

Last week, a 100-bed floating hospital set sail from the UAE to provide medical support to Palestinian patients affected by the war in Gaza.

The repurposed vessel – which has 100 medical and administrative staff on board – will remain docked off the coast of the Egyptian city of Al Arish to support relief efforts for Gaza.

The hospital has operating rooms, intensive care facilities, a laboratory, a pharmacy and medical warehouses.

The vast ship, which sailed from Khalifa Port, also has an evacuation plane and boat, as well as fully equipped ambulances.

The additional medical support provides a vital lifeline as war rages on. The death toll in Gaza stands at more than 28,500, with more than 68,000 people injured.

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a satellite constellation service that provides internet access using satellites that orbit the planet at between 200km and 2,000km.

For perspective, the International Space Station orbits at 408km, while the Hubble Space Telescope is at 547km.

The service provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet. Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Satellite internet is a viable option in Gaza compared to regular internet services. For instance, to have access to the internet using a 5G or any broadband connection, a device must be within range of a cell tower.

The closer a user is to the cell tower, the better and faster the connection should be. With a satellite, you can gain access to the internet even in the middle of nowhere.

Updated: February 15, 2024, 7:16 AM