In the midst of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the experiences of pregnant women and newborns in Gaza paint a harrowing picture. The streets of Gaza are empty and shrouded in darkness, with the only sounds being that of planes and shelling. The story of Wajiha al-Abyad, a 29-year-old woman, captures the nightmare that many face during childbirth in these dire circumstances.
Wajiha’s contractions began late in the evening, but the ambulance she desperately called for took 40 minutes to arrive. Racing through the war-ravaged streets of Deir Al-Balah, she felt the jolts of the ambulance, aggravating her already painful contractions. This is just one example of the challenges faced by women and newborns in war-torn Gaza.
The United Nations estimates that there are approximately 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, with over 160 babies being born every day. These women, along with their children, are disproportionately affected by the war, both as casualties and through limited access to healthcare services. The situation is exacerbated by the closure of crossings into Gaza, preventing loved ones from being present during childbirth.
The Al-Awda Hospital in Nuseirat, once a place of care and safe refuge for expectant mothers, has been transformed into a center for treating the large number of war casualties. The tension and chaos make it a daunting environment for both doctors and patients. The horrific reality is that mothers hide their newborns under their clothes during shelling, fearing that the windows might shatter and harm their children.
However, the struggle does not end with childbirth. The aftermath of giving birth in Gaza is filled with uncertainty and danger. Lack of access to critical healthcare services, combined with the destruction of hospitals and clinics, poses a grave threat to the well-being of mothers and newborns. Palestinian health officials report that over 3,300 women and 5,000 children have lost their lives since the war began.
The dire conditions in Gaza extend beyond healthcare. The bombardment and displacement have led to collapsing water and electricity supplies, limited access to food and medicines, and unimaginable suffering. Nutritionists like Noor Hammad are deeply concerned for the health and survival of their unborn babies. Drinking dirty water and eating processed canned food offer little nutritional value and put both mother and child at risk.
The impact of the war on the maternal and child healthcare system in Gaza is severe. Approximately two-thirds of hospitals and primary care clinics are no longer functioning, leaving healthcare officials warning of an impending collapse. The fear of losing unborn babies is a haunting reality for pregnant women like Noor Hammad.
For Wajiha al-Abyad and her newborn son Ahmed, the dream of a peaceful and safe life for their family is the ultimate goal. Finding refuge away from the war-torn Gaza Strip, where access to basic necessities is scarce, is their only hope. Their story showcases the desperate desire to provide a better future for their children, away from the violence and hardships of conflict.
Q: How are pregnant women and newborns affected by the conflict in Gaza?
A: Pregnant women and newborns in Gaza face numerous challenges, including difficulty accessing healthcare services, giving birth in chaotic environments, and living in dire conditions after childbirth.
Q: How has the war impacted the healthcare system in Gaza?
A: The war has severely disrupted the healthcare system in Gaza. Many hospitals and clinics are no longer functioning, leaving pregnant women and newborns with limited access to essential care.
Q: What are the repercussions of the war on the nutrition of pregnant women in Gaza?
A: Limited access to food and clean water has resulted in pregnant women resorting to consuming processed canned food and drinking dirty water, which lack the necessary nutritional value for both the mother and the baby.
Q: How many women and children have lost their lives due to the conflict?
A: According to Palestinian health officials, more than 3,300 women and 5,000 children have been killed since the war in Gaza began.
Q: What are the immediate concerns for pregnant women in Gaza?
A: Pregnant women in Gaza face the constant fear of losing their unborn babies due to the collapse of the healthcare system, limited access to vital resources, and the ongoing violence and destruction.