photo: Hind Abu Jahal, a pharmacist at Al Sahaba, talks to a patient.
byÂ Anera.orgÂ / Gaza/ PNN
Al Sahaba medical complexÂ in Gaza City specializes in offering medical services to women at reproductive age and beyond. â€śMost of our patients need constant follow-up and check-ups to monitor the status of their fetus throughout the course of their pregnancy,â€ť says Dr. Ziyad Siam, an obstetrician at Al Sahaba.
Providing proper maternity services inÂ GazaÂ can present challenges. Dr. Siam points out that the Palestinian territory suffers from continualÂ shortages of medicinesÂ and medical supplies. Should complications arise during pregnancy, patients have great difficulty in getting permits to access medical treatment outside of Gaza.
Women in Gaza rely heavily onÂ Al Sahaba, where a large percentage of staff are women. Given the conservative culture of many communities in the area, having access to female medical practitioners is vitally important.
Staff are available to offer counseling and treatment around the clock. One patient comments,Â â€śI am more confident about sharing my symptoms with doctors at this center. And I feel that I have the privacy I need to speak freely.â€ť
Esmat, one of the clinicâ€™s patients, suffered two miscarriages before learning that she has a blood-clotting disorder.
â€śWhen I first found out [about my condition] I was four weeks pregnant. After the diagnosis I underwent tests and the doctor put me on heparin for the remainder of the pregnancy,â€ť she said.
Heparin is widely used to prevent blood clots and associated complications of pregnancy. As Dr. Siam explains, â€śThe risk is that when a clot forms it can get lodged in the umbilical cord, cutting off blood circulation to the baby. The medication thins out the blood and prevents any clots from forming.â€ť
TheÂ donated medicine is made available at no chargeÂ to patients at Al Sahaba. Clinic pharmacist Hind Abu Jahal underscores to patients the importance of compliance with the instructed dose of heparin to ensure mother and child safety. Abu Jahal notes that heparin is typically unaffordable for all but a few in Gaza.
Most of the clinicâ€™s patients come from the Al Shati refugee camp and surrounding areas. The â€śeconomic situation is tough in Gaza, let alone in the refugee camps where unemployment is probably higher than anywhere else,â€ť Hind comments.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.