ActionAid Ireland say doctors in its partner hospital in Gaza reporting rise in miscarriages due to stress and lack of food  

  • Date: 06/06/2024
  • Author: Emma Doyle

ActionAid Ireland CEO, Karol Balfe, said staff at its partner hospital Al-Awda Hospital in Nuseirat – the only hospital in central Gaza currently providing maternity services including c-sections – said pregnant women are increasingly presenting at the hospital with heavy bleeding and other complications.  

She said: “It is heartbreaking but hardly surprising that the number of miscarriages is rising considering the atrocious conditions pregnant women in Gaza are being forced to endure. Not only are they experiencing the constant stress and trauma of living in a warzone, where nowhere is safe, but they have hardly anything to eat.”

Ms Balfe added: “When women are exhausted, starving and weak, what chance do their unborn babies have? Doctors are doing their very best to treat the pregnant women who come to them, many in a critical condition, but they are running dangerously low on the vital medicines they need to do their jobs – all while being utterly exhausted, overstretched and traumatised themselves. What they, and everyone else in Gaza, urgently need is a permanent and immediate ceasefire.” 


Dr Raed Al Saudi, Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the hospital said currently between 40 and 50 babies are delivered there a day. The hospital has only 35 beds.

In a video sent to ActionAid he said: “A miscarriage can happen for several reasons. Some of which are exhaustion of the pregnant woman due to displacement… Malnutrition is one of the main reasons.”

“…We have cases of women coming from their homes with excessive bleeding. Cases of abruptio placentae or placenta previa, or postpartum bleeding. This obviously poses a great risk on the patient.” 
 
Fadwa, 30, a patient at the hospital who sadly suffered a miscarriage, said: “[I had a miscarriage] during my second month of pregnancy. I was tired and did not have proper nutrition…Nothing to help keep my baby. My doctor said… I must take vitamins and medication such as folic acid to prevent deformation. I also needed to take medication to stabilize my pregnancy. I managed to get folic acid from the clinic but couldn’t get the stabilization medication… We searched many pharmacies but could not find it. I was told to rest. I tried to take as much rest as I could, but it wasn’t really possible.” 
 
Dr Yasmine, Head of Inpatient and Maternity Department at the hospital, said staff had seen many cases of women losing their unborn babies. She said: “Sometimes there are cases of bleeding and premature births, or miscarriages. It is possible that cases of postpartum haemorrhage result from malnutrition, or cases of anaemia. 
 
“The bombing causes displacement, forcing people to go from house to house, in order to avoid bombing and death. With these factors, it is possible that women can have direct bleeding or suffer from high blood pressure. This can lead to a complete separation of the foetus [Placental abruption] and a miscarriage. We deal with many cases in this situation. 
 
“There are many women who lost their [unborn babies] as a result of direct exposure to bombing. A woman is pregnant and has an injury. On the second day or on the same day, she has bleeding. She is delivered to the operating department. These things happen a lot here.” 
  
ActionAid’s partner Al-Awda runs several health facilities across the Gaza strip which are all facing enormous challenges due to the ongoing onslaught by the Israeli military. 
 

Its hospital in the Tal Al-Zaatar area, north of Gaza, was recently under siege for a total of 13 days. The siege ended on Friday and, despite damage to the building, services have now resumed. 
 
Tragically, a health facility run by Al-Awda in the heart of the Jabalia refugee camp – the Al-Awda Health and Community Centre – which had been a beacon for the community for almost 40 years, was destroyed by bombing during the recent 20-day Israeli military incursion in the area.  

The Al-Awda organisation has vowed to rebuild it, saying in a statement: “The memory of Al-Awda Health and Community Center, spanning more than thirty-nine years, encapsulates stories, tales, efforts, tears, pains, and hopes that the machinery of oppression cannot erase. Just as it began as a medical tent with a box of stories and books, we will rise again like the phoenix, gathering our scattered stones to rebuild… We will not abandon our patients, we will not leave our land and position, and we will remain with the people of our community.” 
 

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