that the prevailing poverty and unemployment in Gaza are the main reasons [for this unawareness],” he says, “in spite of the advice offered by various clinics for families.” But a more complete picture involves many interrelated factors, he says. Disease spreads more widely and rapidly among larger families, especially those struggling with malnutrition, he says. “Moreover, weak infrastructure, contaminated water and environmental pollution, particularly in impoverished and remote neighborhoods from the center of the city, cause severe infections and diseases.” But poor health does not strike the poor and uneducated alone. Shadia Daher sits with her family after the birth of her tenth child, Mahmoud, in early February.
Samira Abu Muheisen, 25, a mother of 7-month-old twins Muhammad and Rawan, has come to the Shajaia clinic to treat the twins’ coughs, which have been interrupting their sleep. After examining the children and listening to Mrs. Muheisen’s concerns, Dr. Za’anin prescribes a treatment and advises her to continue breastfeeding her twins and to keep them warm until their health improves. Mrs. Muheisen has been married for two years. She lives in a house with the twins and her husband, who works at a governmental school and receives a monthly salary of about $300. A third of their income goes to rent, while the rest is spent on daily needs. A university graduate, Mrs. Muheisen has had little success
finding a job due to lack of opportunities and gender discrimination. Overall unemployment among adult women in Gaza stands at about 60 percent, compared with at about 36 percent among men. Yet among those with high levels of education, the two sexes face opposite outcomes — unemployment falls to about 29 percent for men and rises to just above 61 percent for women. “We live in a house with no adequate ventilation, electricity or heating, due to frequent power outages. I exert my greatest efforts to maintain my twins’ health, against winter colds and flu,” she explains. “I would like to have a big family of at least six kids. For now, I have a son and daughter.” She hopes to
The official publication of Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)