C-Sections Are Performed Without Anesthesia in Gaza

Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are ceasing operations due to fuel shortages and are running out of critical drugs as the humanitarian crisis deepens.

Over one-third of hospitals and nearly two-thirds of primary health care have shut down in Gaza, according to CARE, an international humanitarian organization.

In hospitals that are still functioning, medical staff are struggling to cope with the volume of injured patients. Operations are taking place in darkness, with surgeons using torchlight.

While critical drugs, including anesthetics, are being rationed, more and more pregnant Gazan women are undergoing C-sections without anesthesia.

“If at some point during the day or days the hospital has run out of anesthetic, then surgeries will take place without, until doctors manage to get another supply—if they do,” Hiba Tibi, CARE’s West Bank and Gaza director, told Jezebel.

However, Tibi did not specify the number of C-sections that have been performed without anesthetics.

If people don’t require critical care after giving birth, they are discharged as soon as possible, usually within one day, Tibi says, and "they won’t be going back home but back to the overcrowded and unsanitary shelter."

Approximately 50,000 pregnant women are caught up in the conflict, with around 5,500 due to give birth within the next 30 days, according to the UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.

Doctors in Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City say they have seen an increase in premature births "as fear and stress take a toll on pregnant women."

"An estimated 840 women may experience pregnancy or birth-related complications. Many of these women have been cut off from safe delivery services as hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties, out of fuel for generators, and lacking medicines and basic supplies – including for the management of obstetric emergencies," the UNFPA’s report, last updated on November 3, reads.

What sparked the most recent conflict?

Militants of Hamas, a group considered terrorist by the United States, launched an attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing over 1,400 people and taking 241 hostages. Since then, Israel has been carrying retaliatory airstrikes and sending troops into the territory.

Over 9,000 Palestinians, about one-third of whom are children, have been killed in the war, and more than 32,000 people have been wounded, according to the data provided by Palestinian health authorities.

Governed by Hamas, the Gaza Strip has been under Israel’s and Egypt’s blockade since 2007. The already grim humanitarian situation in the enclave was made worse by the latest escalation.

Many people in Gaza are drinking unclean water, while access to food is becoming a concern, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Moreover, humanitarian deliveries do not include fuel, essential for the generators to keep hospitals running.


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