Feature: Malnutrition, fuel shortage threaten lives of premature babies in Gaza-Xinhua

Feature: Malnutrition, fuel shortage threaten lives of premature babies in Gaza

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-07-05 22:41:45

GAZA, July 5 (Xinhua) -- In Beit Hanoun, a town scarred by conflict in the northern Gaza Strip, Shahd al-Kafarna struggles to breathe in Kamal Adwan Hospital's neonatal ward.

Born three weeks premature, she relies on oxygen tubes in her incubator. Her mother Salma, 29, is frail, watching her every move with a mix of anxiety and hope.

"Stress, psychological strain, and malnutrition led to my premature labor," Salma said. "When Shahd was born, there was no cry -- just silence."

The mother feared the worst, but, against the odds, Shahd took that vital first breath.

"Every day I come here, I see her fighting," Salma said, her voice a blend of fear and determination. "Each breath feels like a small victory, a chance for her to grow stronger."

However, Salma's hope is threatened by the hospital's looming fuel shortage. Hussam Abu Safiya, the hospital's director, spoke of an impending crisis should fuel supplies fail to materialize.

"Without fuel, the oxygen that sustains premature infants like Shahd will cease," he warned.

"Approximately 40 children were born malnourished and with low birth weights because mothers didn't receive the essential nourishment during pregnancy," Wissam Al-Sakani, the public relations officer at Kamal Adwan Hospital, told Xinhua.

"In the face of the fuel shortage, we are currently striving to keep the premature babies alive by maximizing the hospital's electricity to operate the oxygen devices within the incubators," Al-Sakani added.

Al-Sakani called upon international health institutions to step in and provide the much-needed fuel for the hospital, especially for the incubators, to salvage the lives of patients and premature infants.

Pregnant women and newborns are particularly vulnerable amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which has created a severe humanitarian crisis in the densely populated area.

A survey conducted by UN Women in April across the Gaza Strip revealed that 76 percent of pregnant women interviewed reported suffering from anemia, and 99 percent faced difficulties in accessing essential nutritional supplies and supplements.

While Salma continues to pray for her daughter's survival, Shaimaa Abu Sharekh, a resident of Jabalia, has already faced the worst. Her baby, born prematurely seven days ago and weighing just 1 kilogram, succumbed to complications from malnutrition during pregnancy.

"I suffered greatly during my pregnancy from displacement, fear, anxiety, and malnutrition," the 25-year-old mother recounted. "He was born weak and incomplete and died before I could even hold him."

"What is our fault as mothers, and what is the fault of our children, that we should pay the price for this war over which we have no control?" She questioned.