Israel imposed a total blockade on the besieged Gaza Strip after the resumption of hostilities on October 7. As a result, the entry of daily goods including food and drink, medicines, fuel into the country through Israel was completely stopped. Some aid is entering through Egypt’s Rafah crossing, but fuel is not coming in. Apart from this, the relief that is going, is very little compared to the need. In this situation, women and children have to pay the highest price. Gazan women are even forced to take drugs to stop periods.
On the other hand, it is risky to go too far as bombs fall like rain every moment. The situation is like ‘nowhere to go, nothing to do’. The women and children of the valley have to pay the highest price in this extreme humanitarian crisis.
Women are taking medicine to stop menstruation
Millions of Gazans are crammed into the homes of relatives and makeshift shelters. Fuel is one of the commodities that is most in short supply in the valley due to the Israeli blockade. Due to lack of it, Gaza’s water cannot be purified like ten other problems. As a result, the water supply system has collapsed.
Within a month of the start of the Hamas-Israel conflict, millions of people were displaced, leaving many people sheltering in individual homes. As a result, you have to wait for a long time to use the toilet. As there is no water, after a few days maybe you get a chance to take a bath.
On the other hand, there is an acute shortage of essential products like sanitary napkins or tampons due to lack of supply. Moreover, many pharmacies have been closed or destroyed in attacks. Products like sanitary napkins or tampons are not reaching the pharmacy even if they are in the godown due to damage to the communication system.
Women and children are paying the highest price in extreme humanitarian crises. Photo: Reuters
In this situation, the women of Gaza are forced to choose an alternative path by accepting serious health risks. Many people are taking various medicines to stop menstruation regularly.
Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist Dr. Nasser Medical Complex in the southern city of Gaza Khan Yunis. Walid Abu Hatab said, taking these drugs increases the level of progesterone hormone in the body. As a result menstruation is delayed. However, side effects such as irregular bleeding, dizziness and nausea, changes in the normal menstrual cycle, headaches and blurred vision and mood swings can occur.
Salma Khaled, 40, fled Gaza City’s Tel-A-Hawa two weeks ago and has taken refuge at a relative’s house in the Deir al-Balah refugee camp. He said, ‘I am going through the most difficult days of my life. There are no sanitary pads in the store. Many people have to use a toilet together. So I sent my daughter to the store and bought meds to delay menstruation. I am worried about its possible side effects on the body.’
Another woman, Samira al-Saadi, has taken refuge with her family in a UN-run school west of Khan Yunis. Just a few months ago, her 15-year-old daughter got her first period. This 55-year-old woman said, ‘My daughter is still unable to understand everything as she has just started menstruation. He now has to stay in a shelter. Sanitary pads and enough water to keep yourself clean. But it is not available if you want.’ Samira is not sure whether to buy medicine to delay menstruation for her daughter. She is concerned about the side effects of the drug and how it might affect her daughter.
A 35-year-old woman named Ruba Saif also told about such plight. He said, ‘There is no such thing as personal privacy in a shelter. There is no water in the toilet. I can’t even go out for water. You have to be in fear all the time. There are not enough blankets to protect from the cold. Amidst all this, it is difficult for me to bear the pain of menstruation. So I bought medicine to delay menstruation from the shop with my brother.’
Ruba also said, ‘Other women who have taken shelter here at the school have asked me about this medicine. I know about their side effects. But this drug cannot do more harm than the attacks and deaths happening around us.’
Many women have taken shelter at a UN-run school in Khan Yunis. Photo: Reuters
Abortions and malnourished births increased
Palestinian pregnant women are going through a terrible situation due to continued attacks by Israel. Thousands of pregnant women are suffering indescribably. Abortions and premature births have increased in the Gaza Strip since the renewed conflict on October 7.
This information is known from Al-Shifa Medical Complex, the largest health care center in Gaza City. The hospital now shelters thousands of displaced people. Doctors there say the Hamas-Israel war in Gaza has left pregnant women without adequate equipment and medicine, and lacks antenatal and postnatal care.
A woman named Islam Hamdan from Beit Hanun said that her sister was about to give birth at Al-Hilu International Hospital in Gaza City. But the fear is not over. Nowhere is safe from attack, neither hospital nor school.
Hamdan also said that there have been many cases of abortions and premature births due to the Israeli attacks, which could not be taken to the hospital on time.
Abdel Hakim Shehata, supervisor of Al-Shifa Hospital and obstetrician and gynecologist, said that since the beginning of the invasion in Gaza, many women have given birth to malnourished children and many have had abortions. He thinks that this happened to most of them because of fear and panic.
Hakim Shehata also said, ‘Our Al-Shifa hospital is not able to do much for maternity services while treating the injured in the attack. Along with that, there is a shortage of doctors and medicines.’
Premature births are on the rise in Gaza. Photo: Taken from X
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said that hospitals in the Gaza Strip are in dire shortage of fuel, medicine and medical supplies as a result of the Israeli attack and siege.
Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila said that the Al-Shifa Medical Complex is facing a severe humanitarian crisis due to a power outage. Continued Israeli bombardment and fuel shortages have caused 16 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals to cease operations. Several other services are under threat of shutdown.
Israeli forces have also targeted hospitals in the Gaza Strip. Among these are Al-Shifa Hospital, Al-Quds Hospital and Indonesian Hospital. Finally, the entrance to Al-Shifa Hospital was bombed. Apart from casualties, the largest health care center is facing dire conditions due to lack of electricity.
Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, warned that the shutdown of the main electrical generator at the Indonesian hospital and the main generator at the al-Shifa medical complex could cause a “health disaster”.
The United Nations has commented that there is no safe place in Gaza under the current situation. Thomas White, the agency’s director of Palestinian refugee affairs, said there was nothing the UN could do to save the residents as Israeli attacks continued.
Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Health Ministry said that more than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7. Most of them are children and women. More than 22 thousand injured. On the other hand, the number of Israelis killed in Hamas attacks is 1500.
References: Al Jazeera, BBC, Anadolu Agency, World Health Organization