Protecting the lives of at-risk babies born under blockade

Being born in Gaza means being born under blockade and closure, with all the severe restrictions to accessing vital, life-saving healthcare that this entails.

According to OCHA, 10,000 new-born babies in Gaza are in need of specialised life-saving treatment at nursery and neonatal intensive care units. But this care, particularly for those in need of intensive care, is challenged by shortages of medicines and supplies, of electricity and hospital generator fuel, and of qualified health workers.

Alarming reports from the UN indicate that while neonatal mortality (the death of a baby less than four weeks old) continues to fall around the world, in Gaza it has stagnated at at 14 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Dr Allam Abu Hamda, Head of the Neonatal Unit at Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa, told Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP):

Newborn babies are the most at-risk patients. The challenges we face in Gaza’s neonatal units are exacerbated by the critical shortages of medicines and supplies.”

“MAP’s provision of neonatal life support and safe transfer training, infection control courses and supplies, lifesaving equipment andmedicationsare a huge support to the neonatal staff working daily to save the lives of Gaza’s babies.”

MAP supports six neonatal intensive care units across Gaza. This includes training the neonatal medical teams to provide the care new-born babies need inside Gaza as it is not always possible for critically-ill new-born babies to receive treatment outside Gaza.

Over the last 10 years, MAP has been working with Dr Ezzedin Gouta, a UK-based consultant in paediatrics and neonates, to provide lifesaving training to Gaza’s neonatal teams. The training programmes include assessing airways and resuscitation, emergency cardiovascular care and medication and infection control training, to help reduce the deadly risks to new-borns.

MAP is also training teams to transfer new-borns safely for specialist treatment within Gaza. Thanks to our supporters, MAP recently purchased two intensive care transport ventilators (cots) to ensure babies are protected as they make the journey between intensive care units. The transfer cots are light, easy to carry, contain a humidified oxygen cylinder and can fit on any standard ambulance stretcher. In addition to this equipment, our training ensures medical teams are able to respond to complications during transfers.

Safely transporting baby Bara for specialist care

Bara was born with an extremely low birth weight, just 0.8 kg. His mother gave birth to him at Al Aqsa hospital, where he was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (poor growth while in the womb). Bara urgently required further investigations, including an echocardiogram (to measure his heart functioning), a service unavailable at Al Aqsa hospital.

After Bara’s condition was stabilised, the head of the neonatal unit and the head nurse at Al Aqsa hospital coordinated his safe transfer to Al Rantisi Pediatric Hospital. He was taken to new neonatal unit in the newly delivered neonatal cot purchased by MAP, keeping him safe and warm on his journey.

The neonatal medical teams are extremely pleased with the new intensive care transport cots, enabling them to help more babies like Bara get to the specialised treatment they need.

Please donate today to help us deliver more urgently needed neonatal supplies to Gaza.

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