WHO / GAZA PREMATURE BABIES EVACUATION

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20-Nov-2023 00:03:13
A second WHO-led joint UN mission, working in collaboration with the Palestine Red Crescent Society, earlier Sunday evacuated 31 babies from Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza to a hospital in southern Gaza. WHO

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STORY: WHO / GAZA PREMATURE BABIES EVACUATION
TRT: 03:13
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 20 NOVEMBER 2023, GAZA / JERUSALEM

SHOTLIST:

20 NOVEMBER 2023, GAZA

1. Various shots, premature babies being cared for by healthcare workers, Al-Helal Al-Emarati Maternity Hospital
2. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Hiba Saidi Saleh, internally displaced person:
“I was crying, I was depressed. It was a difficult delivery. Only God knows how difficult it was when I delivered her. And now I’ve seen her, I am reassured that she’s alive and hope she goes and comes back in full health.
3. Various shots, Hiba Saidi Saleh with her daughter
4. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Hiba Saidi Saleh, internally displaced person:
“Yes, I want to send her to Egypt without me; it’s a difficult feeling, everyone knows. But because of my other children in the refugee schools, I cannot go and leave them behind. Shall I go with 1 child and leave 7 behind?”
5. Various shots, premature babies being cared for by healthcare workers

20 NOVEMBER 2023, JERUSALEM

6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, Representative, occupied Palestinian territory, World Health Organization (WHO):
“WHO is very concerned about the remaining patients and staff in Al-Shifa hospital, and as I said, the staff want WHO together with PRCS to evacuate the patients and themselves as quickly as possible.”

20 NOVEMBER 2023, GAZA

7. Various shots, babies being prepared for transport to Rafah Border, Al-Helal Al-Emarati Maternity Hospital

20 NOVEMBER 2023, JERUSALEM

8. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, Representative, occupied Palestinian territory, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Another WHO-lead mission, with senior WHO staff, a WHO trauma specialist, and WHO medical doctor, together with other UN agencies, UNICEF, UNMOS, OCHA, and UNWRA, and of course, very close collaboration with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. I really want to stress that fantastic role of the PRCS without this, nothing would be possible.”

20 NOVEMBER 2023, GAZA

9. Various shots, premature babies being cared for by healthcare workers, Al-Helal Al-Emarati Maternity Hospital

10. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, Representative, occupied Palestinian territory, World Health Organization (WHO):
“28 of these neonates have been transferred to Egypt through PRCS, Again, WHO is really proud to work together with PRCS, and they have arrived in Egypt.”

20 NOVEMBER 2023, GAZA

11. Various shots, premature babies being cared for by healthcare workers, Al-Helal Al-Emarati Maternity Hospital

STORYLINE:
A second WHO-led joint UN mission, working in collaboration with the Palestine Red Crescent Society, earlier Sunday (19 Nov) evacuated 31 babies from Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza to a hospital in southern Gaza.

The severely ill babies were transported in 6 ambulances supplied and staffed by the Palestine Red Crescent.

Other mission members included UN Mine Action, UNICEF, and UNRWA.

The mission was once again assessed as high-risk due to the active combat in close proximity to the hospital.

These premature and low birth weight babies had earlier been moved from the neonatal unit in Al-Shifa to a safer area in the hospital due to the lack of electricity to run their life support and security risks in the hospital.

Saturday and Sunday, two babies died before the evacuation could take place.

There were 33 babies under care on Sunday, according to a Ministry of Health update.

The babies were successfully transported to the neonatal intensive care unit at Al-Helal Al-Emarati Maternity Hospital in southern Gaza, where they are being assessed and stabilized.

Doctors there say all the babies are fighting serious infections due to a lack of medical supplies and the impossibility of continuing infection control measures in Al-Shifa Hospital.

Eleven are in critical condition.

Sadly, none of the infants were accompanied by family members, as the Ministry of Health has only limited information and is not currently able to find close family members.

Six health workers and 10 of their family members, who had been sheltering at the hospital, were also evacuated.

The evacuation, requested by health workers and patients during the joint mission yesterday, became necessary as Al-Shifa Hospital can no longer function due to a lack of clean water, fuel, medical supplies, food, other essential items, and the intense hostilities.

WHO remains deeply concerned about the safety and health needs of patients and health workers who remain at Al-Shifa Hospital and in the few partially functional hospitals in the north that face imminent closure.

Al-Shifa Hospital, previously the largest and most advanced referral hospital in Gaza, must be fully restored to provide urgently needed health services and other hospitals in Gaza.

Today’s mission was led by senior WHO staff, including a medical specialist and a doctor, and representatives from UNICEF, UNMAS, and UNRWA, as noted above.

It included medical staff from the Palestine Red Crescent Society, along with their ambulances. WHO is grateful for their partnership and the support of the rest of the UN, working together as One UN.

The complex and high-risk operation, occurring in an active conflict zone, follows an assessment mission yesterday, 18 November, which included public health experts, logistics specialists, and security staff from OCHA, UNDSS, UNMAS/UNOPS, UNRWA, and WHO.

Sunday’s mission was deconflicted with the Israel Defense Forces and the de facto authorities.

Over 250 patients and 20 health workers at Al-Shifa all request immediate evacuation.

Planning is ongoing to evacuate the remaining patients, their families, and the healthcare workers.

Given the complex security and logistics constraints, these evacuations will take several days to complete. Priority will be given to the 22 dialysis patients and 50 patients with spinal injuries.

WHO reaffirms its respect for the dedication, professionalism, humanity, and courage of the health staff who have continued to care for their patients under unimaginably difficult conditions.

WHO reiterates its plea for collective efforts to bring an end to the hostilities and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

WHO calls for an immediate ceasefire, the sustained flow of humanitarian assistance at scale, unhindered humanitarian access to all of those in need, the unconditional release of all hostages—many of whom have serious medical needs—and the cessation of attacks on health care and other vital infrastructure.
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