An estimated 19,000 pregnant women are part of the 1.1 million residents forced to flee from northern Gaza due to Israel’s evacuation order on 13 October, with no safe place to give birth. Women are miscarrying pregnancies due to stress and shock, and the availability of medical facilities to birth safely in Gaza’s already overwhelmed healthcare system is rapidly dwindling.
Wafa Abu Hasheish, a healthcare provider with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA), an IPPF Member Association, has been providing medical aid to residents of her neighbourhood in northern Gaza where she has been sheltering since 10 October, three days after Israel declared war on the Gaza Strip.
She said: “I have dealt with two suspected cases of miscarriages already, where there was no movement for the foetus and the mother had hypotension, bleeding and back pain. There has been one case where a woman was referred to where I am staying, since they knew I was a health service provider in the neighborhood. The woman was 8 months pregnant and was suffering from severe labor pain and was having a premature birth. We were very fortunate that when she reached me that we were able to refer her to a health center in time to be able to give birth safely."
Even if the delivery of limited amounts of aid is allowed into southern Gaza, as was reported on 16 October, it remains unclear exactly how this aid will reach the more than 9,600 injured and the nearly 600,000 internally displaced people in central and southern Gaza who are living in increasingly dire conditions. It has also been reported that the aid will not be distributed into northern Gaza, where 1.1 million residents have been ordered to evacuate ahead of a likely Israeli ground invasion.