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UN reports deliberate destruction of medical equipment in Gaza hospitals

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The United Nations has expressed grave concern over the intentional destruction of essential medical equipment in Gaza's hospitals and maternity wards.

The deliberate damage is exacerbating already dire conditions for women giving birth in the area.

Recent inspections conducted by UN-led teams at ten Gaza hospitals revealed alarming conditions. Dominic Allen, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) representative for the State of Palestine, described many of these facilities as "in ruins." Only a couple were found capable of providing any level of maternal health services, reported AFP.

During a visit to the Nasser hospital complex in Khan Yunis, which has been under siege by Israeli forces, Allen was deeply troubled by what he observed. He reported, "medical equipment purposefully broken, ultrasounds with cables that have been cut, and screens of complex medical equipment like ultrasounds smashed."

The World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the challenges of supplying such specialized medical equipment to Gaza, a situation that existed even before the outbreak of the current conflict following Hamas's attack on Israel on October 7.

Allen emphasized the severity of the situation, stating that the intentional destruction in maternity wards, combined with other infrastructure damage, is hindering efforts to restore the once prominent Nasser hospital to full operation.

At Al-Khair, another maternity hospital in Khan Yunis, the situation is equally bleak. Allen remarked that there appeared to be no functioning medical equipment, and the birthing rooms were eerily silent.

Out of Gaza's 36 hospitals, only 10 are partially operational.

Among these, only three can adequately assist the estimated 180 women who give birth in Gaza daily. This figure includes around 15% of women who face complications requiring extensive care.

The Emirati Hospital in southern Gaza, currently the main maternity facility, is under immense strain, facilitating up to 60 births daily, including 12 caesarian sections. Due to this overwhelming demand, new mothers are discharged within hours, increasing health risks.

Allen noted additional concerns regarding the rising number of complicated procedures resulting from issues like malnutrition, dehydration, and fear, which compromise the safety of childbirth and the well-being of newborns.

In response to the deteriorating health system, the UNFPA is deploying midwives and midwifery kits to makeshift centres set up in schools to bridge the gap in care.

The conflict escalated after Hamas's attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people in southern Israel, predominantly civilians, according to Israeli official figures. Israel's retaliatory actions have claimed over 34,000 lives in Gaza, with the majority being women and children, as reported by Gaza's health ministry.

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TAGS:GazaHamasUNIsrael Palestine Conflict
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