Saturday, 8 August 2015

Infant mortality rate rises in Gaza for first time in fifty years


rusalem, 8 August 2015: The infant mortality rate in Gaza has risen for the first time in five decades, according to an UNRWA study, and UNRWA’s Health Director says the blockade may be contributing to the trend.

Every five years, UNRWA conducts a survey of infant mortality across the region, and the 2013 results were released this week.

The number of babies dying before the age of one has consistently gone down over the last decades in Gaza, from 127 per 1,000 live births in 1960 to 20.2 in 2008. At the last count, in 2013, it had risen to 22.4 per 1,000 live births.

The rate of neonatal mortality, which is the number of babies that die before four weeks old, has also gone up significantly in Gaza, from 12 per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 20.3 in 2013.

“Infant mortality is one of the best indicators for the health of the community,” said Dr. Akihiro Seita, Director of UNRWA’s health program. “It reflects on the mother and child’s health and in the U.N. Millennium Development Goals it is one of the key indicators.”

“The rate”, Dr. Seita said, “had declined quite smoothly over the last decades across the region, including Gaza. So when the 2013 results from Gaza were first uncovered, UNRWA was alarmed by the apparent increase. So we worked with external independent research groups to examine the data, to ensure the increase could be confirmed. That is why it took us so long to release these latest figures“.

Such an increase here is unprecedented in Dr. Seita’s experience working in the Middle East. “Progress in combatting infant mortality doesn’t usually reverse. This seems to be the first time we have seen an increase like this,” Dr. Seita said. “The only other examples I can think of are in some African countries which experienced HIV epidemics”.

The UN Agency will carry out another region-wide survey of Palestinian refugees in 2018. However, UNRWA will conduct one this year in Gaza alone because of these latest figures. more

Hamas urges confrontation with Israel after second arson death


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Hamas called Saturday for "open and comprehensive confrontation" with Israel after the father of a Palestinian toddler killed in a firebombing by Jewish extremists last week died of his burns.

"Nothing will stop these murderous settler attacks and... we cannot wait until they come into our villages and our homes," Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran wrote on Facebook from his base in Qatar.

"Our people in the West Bank have only one choice: that of open and comprehensive confrontation against the occupation."

Saad Dawabsha died earlier on Saturday in hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba where he was being treated for third degree burns, Palestinian official Ghassan Daghlas said.

Dawabsha's wife Riham Dawabsha and four-year-old son Ahmed are still fighting for their lives in hospital after the arson attack which killed 18-month-old Ali on Friday of last week.

The family's small brick and cement home in the occupied West Bank village of Duma was gutted by the fire and a Jewish Star of David spray-painted on a wall along with the words "revenge" and "long live the Messiah". more

Father of slain Palestinian infant dies from his wounds


BETHLEHEM, (Ma'an) -- Saad Dawabsha, the father of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha who was burned alive in an arson attack by Israeli extremists on July 31, died from his injuries early Saturday morning, local sources told Ma'an.

Saad, 30, suffered from third-degree burns covering 80 percent of his body, the Palestinian Minister of Health told Ma'an, and was fighting for his life for more than a week before succumbing to his wounds.

Local sources from the family's village of Duma in the northern West Bank told Ma'an that the family had been notified of the death of Saad soon after he passed, and added that the 30-year-old would be laid to rest on Saturday.

Saad's wife Riham Dawabsha, remains in critical condition and suffers third-degree burns across 90 percent of her body. more

Israeli forces bomb target near refugee camp in Gaza, injure 4


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces injured at least four Palestinians during a bombing near Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Friday, witnesses told Ma'an.

The four people injured were rushed to the hospital in ambulances.Their condition is unknown.

Earlier on Friday an Israeli army spokesperson said a rocket was fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip,with no injuries or damage reported.

An Israeli army statement released after the bombing on Gaza said the attack was in retaliation to the rocket allegedly fired out of the strip on Friday. more