Women’s Health Care in Bureij Refugee Camp
Donated Medicine Helps Vulnerable Women in Gaza
Samah, 41, is a resident of Bureij Refugee Camp in the middle of Gaza. She has been relying on her local clinic, the Women's Health Center in Bureij, for basic reproductive health care since she was in high school. She has full confidence in them: “They have never let me down or refused to offer help.”
Since her first pregnancy, Samah has experienced frequent infections. The devoted mother of four daughters and three boys had gone to see the gynecologist at the clinic for a checkup on her intrauterine device shortly before the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The clinic had recommended the IUD as the most effective long-term, reversible birth control method available.
Recently, she once again had to visit the clinic after she began experiencing severe cramping and pelvic pain following the removal of an ovarian cyst.
Samah knows that not all types of infections are the same, and that they require different treatments. Yet, she says,
“I probably would have preferred to pick a random medicine from the drugstore to cure myself, rather than being examined by a male doctor at another clinic.”
It is not only the high level of care provided by the all-female staff for only a nominal fee that leads Samah to rely on this clinic, but also the availability of the appropriate medicines at no cost.
On this visit to the clinic, the doctor runs a lab test and cultures for Samah. Based on the diagnosis, the doctor prescribes econazole, a medicine used to treat fungal and yeast infections. Thanks to a recent medical donation from International Health Partners, the clinic is able to make the drug available to patients at no cost. The doctor also prescribed vitamins and painkillers for Samah.
In the days since her visit, she took the medication diligently and symptoms soon disappeared. "Fortunately, since I got the medicine, I have been feeling better," Samah says.
“Thank God, I got cured. It is a huge comfort to get the medicine without worrying about the cost.”
Marwa El Bilbisi, a pharmacist at the women’s clinic, works with many patients like Samah. Prior to the pandemic, she would come face to face with dozens of patients in a typical workday. In keeping with public health protocols, the clinic is now providing consultations over the phone. Patients do not need to show up in-person, except in cases of emergency.
Marwa says that although times were not great before the virus, she is hopeful the pandemic will end quickly so people can return to what passes for normalcy in Gaza. "Our world is always better when it's disease-free. It’s the responsibility of every individual [to help get us there]."
Thanks to a generous shipment from International Health Partners, Anera recently distributed econazole 150mg vaginal pessaries to 17 clinics and hospitals across Gaza. The shipment contained various medicines including antibiotics, multivitamins and anti-diabetic medications, in addition to antifungal and anti-inflammatory medications.