Thursday, 26 September 2013

Power cuts endanger lives of babies in Gaza


Standing worriedly in a room full of beeping machines and busy nurses, Abdullah al-Nabih's eyes remain glued to his baby boy – born prematurely – who is covered in wires and tubes that keep him alive in a small incubator in Gaza's largest hospital.

Al-Nabih's infant son, Mohamed, is one of 32 newborns kept alive with feeding tubes in Al-Shifa Hospital's maternity ward after being born too early.

The nervous father mutters a prayer, asking God to keep the intensive-care units working smoothly without any disruption.

"The machines connected to my son's body are what keep him alive; any disruption could have a negative impact on his future life," he said.

Al-Nabih is mainly concerned now with the power outages that have become a daily occurrence in Gaza – often lasting as long as 12 hours a day.

In recent months, the hospital has been able to cope with mounting electricity cuts with the use of power generators that rely on fuel. But since the Egyptian army launched a crackdown on the border tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which are dedicated largely to transporting items restricted by Israel, including fuel, the coastal enclave – home to roughly 1.7 million people – has been hit by a crippling energy crisis that has affected public transport, electricity and construction.

Last week, Mufid al-Mekhalilati, health minister in the Gaza government, said the current dearth of Egyptian fuel had affected electricity generators in the strip's hospitals and the operational capacities of its ambulance and rescue services. more

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