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With healthcare system collapsed, women and newborns are bearing brunt of Israel’s war on Gaza

– Zaina Aman

Dec. 10: The situation in Gaza is really, really hard for someone pregnant or about to give birth because the medical system is standing on its knees and racing against time,” says Hiba Tibi, the West Bank and Gaza country director for aid agency CARE International.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees in the Near East is a relief and human development agency, under which WHO has documented 212 attacks on Healthcare in the Gaza Strip since 7 October. Three-fifths (60%) of health attacks and three-fifths (58%) of hospitals damaged were in Gaza City.

Though UNRWA health centers in Gaza are providing care for post-natal and high-risk pregnant women, and have attended 1,322 cases since the war began, women and newborns are bearing the brunt of the conflict. The continuous bombardment, non-functioning health facilities, collapsing water and electricity supplies as well as no access to food and medicine is disrupting maternal and newborn health services. It is estimated that there are 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, with more than 180 giving birth every day. Fifteen percent of these women are likely to experience pregnancy or birth-related complications and need additional medical care.

With 14 hospitals and 45 primary health care centers closed, some women are having to give birth in shelters, in their homes, in the streets amid the rubble, where sanitation is worsening and the risk of infection and medical complications is on the rise.

In Gaza most of pregnant women have no choice but to undergo an emergency c-section without anaesthetics or hysterectomy i.e. surgical removal of uterus which results in no longer menstrual period, so cannot become pregnant anymore which robs them of maternity for a lifetime. Not only this, conditions in hospitals are catastrophic as major surgeries are being performed with only the flashlight on a phone.

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