|Mother and baby at Al Ahli Hospital.
© ABM/Julianne Stewart 2013
Al-Ahli Arab Hospital has recently completed this 3 month program, using funds generously donated from ABM supporters. Working in partnership with twenty-five Community Based Organisations (CBO’s) in Gaza, 75 children and 85 babies were identified as especially vulnerable and in need of assistance. Most of these children live in very neglected villages adjacent to Israeli borders, such as Bait Lahia, Maghazi, BaniSuheila, El Sha’af, Beit Hanoun, El Zawaida, and Khanyounis.
Through the program, the children were screened by a highly qualified pediatrician, who identified any particular areas of health concern and prescribed the most appropriate course of treatment. Most were assessed as underweight, wasted and stunted in growth, some severely, and typically suffered from other health conditions such as rickets, anemia, bronchial asthma, skin and ear infections, congenital heart disease and cystic fibroses.
Medical treatment and nutritional supplements were offered free of charge to all beneficiaries for the 3 month period, with regular physical check-ups being conducted by the pediatrician and nursing staff. At the end of this period, all but four children showed good recovery in weight and overall health, and were discharged from the program. The four children showing only slow improvement were referred to a further 3 month treatment plan, funded by other partners of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital.
The 85 babies identified in the initial assessment were also given access to medical treatment and nutritional supplements, and their mothers provided with education on early childhood healthcare and hygiene needs. Unfortunately one baby in the program passed away due to being severely underweight and stunted, as well as suffering from severe jaundice and abdominal distension.
Life continues to be difficult for those living in the Gaza Strip. A report released in August 2012 by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) found that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. It found that 44% of Palestinians in Gaza are food insecure and almost twice that number rely on aid agencies for at least some of their food. As a result, tens of thousands of children have iron and vitamin deficiencies. According to Save the Children “the consequences of this include stunted growth of bones and teeth, difficulty fighting infections, fatigue and reduced capacity to learn.” Approximately 59% of schoolchildren and 68% of children aged 9-12 months have anemia, and 10% of children under five suffer stunting as a result of chronic malnutrition.
Your continued support for the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital is vital in helping those children most at risk. The 3 month program is scheduled to be run again at the end of 2014, so please give generously to support this work.