Premature Babies in Grave Peril at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital Amidst Israeli Siege

Mon Nov 13 2023
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GAZA CITY: The vulnerable lives of premature babies at Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital are hanging in the balance as the facility faces dire conditions due to the Israeli military siege. Israeli tanks surround the hospital, exacerbating a critical situation due to shortage of electricity, water, food, medicines, and essential medical equipment.

Dr. Mohamed Tabasha, the head of the pediatric department at Al-Shifa, expressed the urgency of the situation, revealing that the hospital had 39 premature babies under its care, a number that has dwindled to 36. The infants, weighing less than 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds), require incubators for regulated temperature and humidity, but due to power shortages, they had to be moved to ordinary beds.

The shortage of electricity has compromised the infants’ well-being, exposing them to unstable temperatures and an increased risk of infection. Dr. Tabasha highlighted the absence of infection control measures, leading to the transmission of viruses among the babies who now lack immunity. Additionally, the sterilization of milk and bottle teats, crucial for their health, is no longer possible, resulting in cases of gastritis, diarrhea, and vomiting among the infants.

Deadly Situation in Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital

Dr. Ahmed El Mokhallalati, involved in caring for the babies, described the conditions as deadly, emphasizing the need for urgent intervention to improve the situation. The critical nature of these cases demands special care and attention, which is challenging given the current open-space setting for the infants.

Dr. Tabasha outlined the essential requirements to ensure the safety of the premature babies, including electricity for incubators, proper sterilization equipment, medicines, and support machines for respiratory emergencies. The medical staff at Al-Shifa is grappling with emotional and physical exhaustion as they strive to provide care under these challenging circumstances.

The dire conditions at Al-Shifa hospital are occurring amidst Israel’s military attacks on Gaza. The toll of the conflict has been devastating, with thousands of lives lost, a significant portion being children, and over half of the population displaced due to the relentless onslaught. Gaza medical authorities report more than 11,000 confirmed deaths, underscoring the gravity of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.

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