Shortage of fuel plunges Gaza into deeper health crisis

10 Nov 2023 03:45pm
Children of Amal al-Robayaa eat their meal amid the ruins of the family home destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov 7, 2023. - (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Children of Amal al-Robayaa eat their meal amid the ruins of the family home destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov 7, 2023. - (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

ISTANBUL - Around 4,600 displaced pregnant women and 380 newborn babies in the Gaza Strip require medical attention, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on late Thursday.

"Many newborn babies are calling UNRWA shelters in Gaza their first home,” Anadolu Agency reported UNRWA as saying on X (formerly known as Twitter).

The UN agency said it works "to provide postnatal care but conditions at the shelters are not suitable for newborns”.

Citing the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNRWA said there are 50,000 pregnant women in the Gaza Strip and more than 180 are giving birth every day.

Gaza’s Only Specialised Children Hospital Out of Service

The Al-Rantisi Hospital for Children in western Gaza went out of service on Thursday after running out of fuel for its generators, leaving 38 Palestinian children who are suffering from kidney failure in grave danger.

"Thirty-eight children suffering from kidney failure are deprived of dialysis after the Al-Rantisi Hospital, the only hospital specialised for children in the Gaza Strip, stopped running as it ran out of fuel," said Ashraf Al-Qudra, the spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier on Thursday, Al-Qudra announced the cessation of all medical services for children at the hospital and also at the Al-Nasr Hospital due to a shortage of fuel.

He said the intensive care and nursery departments would remain operational, relying on small generators.

Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that the Al Nasr Children's Hospital was also under attack by Israeli artillery bombardment, causing severe damage to its facilities.

Half of Hospitals Across Gaza Cease Operations

Earlier this week, the Health Ministry announced that 18 out of 35 hospitals across Gaza had stopped working, while 71 per cent of primary care facilities had closed due to fuel shortages or Israeli bombing.

WAFA reported that the ministry said doctors are still forced to perform surgeries without anaesthesia, including on wounded individuals and women who give birth by caesarean sections.

Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila, on Oct 24, had announced in Ramallah the collapse of the health system in the Gaza Strip.

"The collapse means that from today, all the wounded, including children, women and the elderly, will lose treatment services and cancer patients will be without medications or chemotherapy sessions and kidney patients will be deprived of dialysis sessions.

"Hundreds of premature babies are in danger, and thousands of wounded people will have open wounds," she said.

Death Toll Continues to Climb

At least 10,812 Palestinians, including 4,412 children and 2,918 women, have been killed while more than 26,000 people were injured in Israeli air and ground attacks in the Gaza Strip since Oct 7.

Al-Qudra told a press conference in Gaza City on Thursday that 2,650 people, including 1,400 children, were also reported to be trapped under the rubble.

"The Israeli aggression has left 195 medics dead and 51 ambulances destroyed,” he added.

Besides the large number of casualties and massive displacements, basic supplies are also running low for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents due to the Israeli siege.- BERNAMA