Over 50,000* pregnant women will be forced to give birth with no electricity or medical supplies in Gaza in the coming months, risking life-threatening complications without access to delivery and emergency obstetric care services.
Ammal Awadallah, Executive Director of the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) said:
“We don’t know what’s going to happen to these women and their newborn babies. Our center is unusable and our options to provide referrals to hospitals are decreasing by the hour. I can’t stress enough how dire the situation is and how desperately we need humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza.”
On 8 October, PFPPA’s only center in Gaza was destroyed following an Israeli airstrike to an adjacent building, completely cutting off their ability to offer healthcare to women who have already been systematically denied sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights by the Israeli occupation.
Israel’s complete blockade of Gaza, as announced on 10 October, is preventing food, water, fuel, and medical supplies into Gaza. Currently, Gazans are only able to access electricity for two hours every day - this supply is due to completely run out in the next few days.
The medical system in Gaza, already severely stretched due to 16 years of an illegal blockade, cannot cope with the level of injuries from the current bombardment. Emergency services and medical supplies are not able to reach affected people, including pregnant women, women in labour and newborn babies. It's estimated that 60% of those injured and killed since 10 October are women and children.
On 11 October, the only power plant in Gaza ran out of fuel, and three of five water plants are out of service due to the Israeli bombing and lack of fuel. Without clean water, food, basic medicines and vaccines, innocent women and newborn babies will continue to die.
Wafa Abu Hasheish, a health worker at PFPPA in Gaza said:
"As a health worker and a Palestinian woman, ever since Saturday morning I have been living in constant fear for the safety and livelihood of my family. At the same time I am not able to leave behind my commitment to providing women with health services and information. I have received calls from women having a miscarriage due to the bombings and gas, another going into labor, neighbors reaching out for help… all of which I am trying to assist but with such limited options and resources available and accessible.. I am afraid for their well beings and even for their lives. I do not know how much more the Gazans can take and I am constantly thinking how many more women around Gaza have no one or nowhere to go."
Note: This figure was calculated using the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) calculator based on the most recent available statistics on the population of Gaza. On 16 October, UNFPA released updated statistics that show there are currently at least 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza.
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Established in Jerusalem in 1964, the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA) is locally registered as an independent, non-profit and non-governmental association with headquarters in Jerusalem. PFPPA has service delivery points located in the West Bank Areas of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Halhoul, in addition to one in the Gaza Strip, which has yet to be relocated after it was destroyed following an Israeli airstrike on an adjacent building on 8 October. Furthermore, and in cooperation with local partners, PFPPA is also responsible for 3 safe spaces to provide Gender Based Violence (GBV) related services in the Jerusalem area.
About the International Planned Parenthood Federation
IPPF, through its 149 Member Associations and collaborative partners, delivers high-quality sexual and reproductive healthcare and helps advance sexual and reproductive rights, especially for marginalized people with diverse needs that are currently unmet. IPPF's Member Associations and partners are locally owned, independent organisations, which means the support and care they provide are informed by local expertise and context.
IPPF advocates for a world where people have the information they need to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and their bodies. We stand up and fight for sexual and reproductive rights and against those who seek to deny people their human right to bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive freedom. We deliver care rooted in rights, respect, and dignity for all - no matter what.
*At the time of this press release on 12 October 2023, we reported that there were an estimated 37,000 pregnant women in Gaza, which was calculated using population estimates from the MISP calculator - a tool that helps coordinators and program managers determine affected population demographics for advocacy, fundraising and programming. This statistic has since been updated to an estimated 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, with 5,500 expected to deliver in the next month, according to the most recent available data from the UNFPA.