Al-Awda hospital, run by ActionAid’s partner, has had no electricity or fuel for the last three days yet is continuing to operate against the odds, relying on batteries. Amid dire and incredibly challenging circumstances, staff performed 16 caesarean sections at the weekend and have delivered between 18 and 20 babies per day, despite lacking crucial medical supplies such as anaesthetic. With all other hospitals in the area forced to close, dedicated doctors at Al-Awda are supporting pregnant women fleeing Gaza City and the north of the territory, who are desperately seeking treatment and a suitable place to give birth.
A senior doctor at Al-Awda hospital sent us this voice note message on Sunday:
“In Al-Awda Hospital, we shut down the major power generators, and we haven’t had any electricity or fuel for three days. We are still continuing our services by using batteries and sources of light on battery. We are providing maternity services in the northern area. Today we received many patients – pregnant women from Gaza City – because the hospitals are closed. We delivered 16 caesarean sections today in Al-Awda Hospital. We are now receiving about 18-20 newborn deliveries every 24 hours. I think this number will increase in the next days because people will come to Al-Awda Hospital from Gaza City. We are providing our services to injured patients from the northern area. Because Al-Awda Hospital is the only hospital in the northern area that is active and working. We have enough staff to keep our services running in the hospital even without fuel. There are big challenges, but we are keeping our services and continuing to run. We have shortages of medical supplies, medications and emergency drugs, anesthesia drugs. But our doctors and our team are managing this shortage as they can. It’s really challenging. We are trying to survive. We are trying to keep our services running.”
The situation for hospitals in Gaza is catastrophic; since Friday, facilities and their surrounding areas have come under intensive attack. 22 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals – including two of its biggest medical facilities, Al-Shifa and Al-Quds – are no longer operational, due to the bombing or from having run out of fuel. With no let up from the constant shelling in the surrounding area, people are trapped inside without water, food or electricity.
At Al-Shifa hospital, three newborn babies have died since Saturday after their incubators had to be turned off. Staff are now desperately trying to keep 36 remaining newborns alive. At least 32 of the hospital’s patients have died over the last few days, yet it is impossible for bodies to be buried.
Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine, said: “Thousands of women in Gaza are risking their lives to give birth, undergoing caesareans and emergency operations without sterilization, anesthesia or painkillers. These women deserve quality healthcare and the right to give birth in a safe place. Instead, they are being forced to bring their babies into the world amid utterly hellish conditions.
“Hospitals lack food, water, electricity and fuel, and an ever-growing number are ceasing to function completely. How high must the bodies pile up, how many more helpless babies must die before this suffering ends? Only an immediate ceasefire will ensure that enough fuel and medical supplies can enter Gaza and reach hospitals so they can start providing life-saving care once more.
“It cannot be stated strongly enough: hospitals are not and must never be targets. These safe havens have a protected status under international humanitarian law and this must be respected.”
For more information and interviews with ActionAid spokespeople, please contact: Tim Brunero, 0405 285 547 / [email protected]