Siege Hits Palestinians Before They Are Born
GAZA CITY, May 14 (IPS) - The Israeli siege of Gaza that has restricted access to food, water and medicine is now beginning to hit unborn children and newborn babies.
"Many babies are born suffering from anaemia that they have inherited from their mothers," Dr Salah al-Rantisi, head of the women's health department at the Palestinian ministry of health in
That in turn happens because the Israeli blockade has choked the supply of food and medicines.
Dr al-Rantisi also heads the women's health unit at
Anwaar Abu Daqqa, 30, has lost three babies prematurely. The foetuses were malformed as a result of lack of nutrition and medicine for the mother, Dr al-Rantisi said. And in the last case she reached hospital late because she could not find transport.
"Premature babies born dangerously underweight is a daily and increasing phenomenon in
The Gaza Strip is poorer and harder hit than the
The ministry of health says 9,000 to 10,000 babies are born in the Gaza Strip every month. Of every 1,000 born, 28 die from malnutrition, anaemia and other poverty-related causes. The ministry has no figures for surviving babies suffering from malnutrition.
"There are many cases of pregnant women who need medicines that are not available in
The World Bank said last month that the poverty rate in
One consequence of poverty is anaemia. The condition, a direct consequence of poor nutrition, is not new to
Many of the newly born have been hit by the political situation before they could open their eyes to the world. Of the many deliveries that take place at al-Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, no one can tell how many of these children could grow up to live happy and healthy lives. Through the many dangers has arisen awareness of this new one – that sanctions can hit Gazans quite literally prematurely.
The fear of bombing comes later; the first dangers are the lack of food, water and medicines.
Tahani Safi, 29, lies worrying about the caesarean section scheduled for the next day. She suffers from malnutrition, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a shortage of protective water around the child in the womb.
There are many mothers with such difficulties. Such cases can be found at any hospital, but doctors say the number of cases of conditions a result of poor food and medical care in
So far 146 Gazans have died directly as a result of the Israeli siege, and the border closures and shortage of medication and health care this has brought, according to the ministry of health.