Health in Gaza

Hatem Shurrab, an aid worker with Islamic Relief in Gaza (remember, no journalists), reports on the maternal health situation in the region via The Lancet Global Health Network:

…the healthcare system in Gaza is in disarray and there is little medical support available for pregnant women or their new-born babies. Most delivery rooms and operating theatres which had been used for caesarean sections at Gaza’s hospitals are now being used to treat those injured in the attacks.  On top of this women no longer have any access to ante-natal care because there aren’t enough health staff and because there is no electricity with which to run the ultrasound machines.  Presently women are only giving birth in hospital in critical cases, and even then only if they can make the journey. There have been no caesarean sections since the conflict started. Few women are now able to travel to hospital to give birth as ambulances are unable to reach them.

If a woman dies in childbirth due to the crippling impact of war on the health system, is she considered a casualty of war?  She needs to be.  Only then will be able to grasp the true devastation of war.


2 Responses to “Health in Gaza”

  1. 1 nicky smith January 15, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks for posting that on Gaza Peter! And yes deaths from child birth due to war should count and so should deaths from child birth due to the violent daily occupation which is a war, for example see Palestinian children who die when electricity is cut from hospitals during power cuts or mothers who give premature births due to Israeli war planes flying too low over maternity wards during the ‘ceasefire’.

    In terms of power cuts, see The Strategy Behind the Seige of Gaza which sites a Haaretz article ( Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror had claimed the Gaza power cut was a Hamas propaganda decision and that reports of suffering were exaggerated. However, Palestinian Health Ministry official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain warned that the fuel cutoff would cause a health catastrophe. “We have the choice to either cut electricity on babies in the maternity ward or heart surgery patients or stop operating rooms.”

    More: “The director of Ash-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility, warned Wednesday that it would cease functioning if it failed to receive fuel to power its emergency generators. Deprived of electric power, a failure of the generators, he said, could lead to the deaths of hundreds of patients on kidney dialysis and in intensive care, as well as 25 premature babies. The hospital has already been overwhelmed by the flood of wounded, lacking adequate medicines, anesthetics and other basic necessities.”

  2. 2 Amal January 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree – all of them SHOULD be counted as casualties of war. Gaza’s hospitals are overworked and understaffed, overwhelmed with the dead/injured civilians pouring in, and are working with very, VERY limited medical supplies –syringes, catheters, cancer/diabetes treatment and dialysis products (remember, the siege has been there for quite a while, nearly 2 years!)..

    And you can imagine what kind of mental state their medical staff must be in and what superhuman efforts and courage they have– working to save lives as best they could, under the threat of bombs and attacks all this time.

    What an awful position for a physician or a hospital administrator to be put in: having to decide between cutting electricity on the maternity ward or cardio patients or the operating room… (from comment above mine –quote from Palestinian Ministry of Health official Dr Hassanain).

    Thank you for your post, Peter. None of the health blogs I’ve visited recently have anything on the situation in Gaza. I guess it’s easy to ignore death and destruction when they’re happening in that forgotten corner of the world.

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Welcome to the Students for Global Health Equity (SGHE) blog. Published by university students, the SGHE blog seeks to explore news and issues related to global health.

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