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Healthcare services in Gaza to collapse soon due to Israeli siege

In addition to the severe lack of medicines and medical equipment, Israel and the PA put restrictions on medical transfers for patients in need for treatment abroad

After 11 years of strict Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and intentional procrastination of Palestinian Authority (PA) to take up its responsibilities in Gaza, healthcare services to collapse in days.

Shelves of the Palestinians ministry of health in the Gaza Strip are almost empty as hundreds of medicines ran out months ago.

“The Israeli occupation put strict conditions on the passage of medicines, the medical equipment and medical disposals,” Spokesman of the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement.

He also said that the basic medical materials needed for urgent and necessary surgeries and initial lab tests had run out from the besieged enclave.

Al-Qidra called for the PA ministry of health in Ramallah to send medicines, equipment and spare parts, as well as to transfer administration fees.

Meanwhile, he called for the international community to put pressure on the Israeli occupation to facilitate the entry of at least the urgent material and medical equipment and medicines.

(Source / 02.01.2018)

Gaza: 47 percent of basic medicines in hospitals are out of stock

Abdul-Latif al-Hajj

Director of Gaza hospitals Abdul-Latif al-Hajj has warned that the health situation in Gaza is going to deteriorate further due to depleting medical supplies and the failure to pay for cleaning and catering services in hospitals.

In press remarks to the Palestinian Information Center (PIC), Hajj stated that the warehouses of the health ministry hospitals in Gaza are 47 percent short of basic medicines, describing the scarcities in medicinal supplies as burdensome for doctors and families of patients.

He also held the Ramallah-based government responsible for the failure of the health ministry in Gaza to pay its contractors who employ cleaners and other service-providers at hospitals.

He said that after the consensus government took over the ministries in Gaza, the health situation, in particular, started to decline significantly, stressing that Gaza needs permanent solutions to all problems faced by the health sector.

(Source / 31.12.2017)

Cancer-stricken Gazan dies after Israel denies him medical referral

Gazan died of cancer

A 63-year-old Palestinian was pronounced dead in the blockaded Gaza Strip after the Israeli occupation authorities prevented him from receiving life-saving treatment at hospitals in Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 (Israel).

Abdul Fatah al-Sabakhi, from Gaza’s al-Nuseirat camp, succumbed to his cancer disease. Sometime earlier, Sabakhi, a former UNRWA employee, reached a hospital in Palestinian territories occupied in 1948. However, the Israeli authorities barred him from continuing medical therapy, resulting in his death.

Over recent weeks, al-Sabakahi’s health condition had sharply gone down, before he died on Tuesday morning.

Al-Sabakhi is one among hundreds of Gazans who died in the besieged coastal enclave of Gaza after they were denied the right to urgent medical referrals and treatment outside of Gaza’s under-equipped hospitals.

(Source / 27.12.2017)

Officials: Patients in Gaza hospitals left with no food

Image of an injured Palestinian receiving medical care at the Al-Najar hospital in Gaza on 20 October 2013 [Khaled Khaled/Apaimages]

An injured Palestinian can be seen receiving medical care at the Al-Najar hospital in Gaza on 20 October, 2013

Companies which provide meals to patients in hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip have stopped catering to medical centres because they have not been paid for months, a Ministry of Health spokesperson revealed yesterday.

Speaking to Quds Press, Ashraf Al-Qidra said the government of national accord in occupied Ramallah had not settled the catering companies’ payments.

“Hundreds of patients are now without food,” Al-Qidra said, adding that the Ministry of Finance had not responded to requests made weeks ago to settle the companies’ dues.

He said that patients in the hospitals in Gaza need 86,000 meals a year at a cost of 6 million shekels ($1.7 million).

Last year, Gaza could not cover the cost of the meals and obtained funding from charities.

Healthcare in Gaza: Is there any hope left?

(Source / 19.12.2017)

Samah Jabr on being one of only 22 psychiatrists in the West Bank

In her capacity as the head of mental health services in the West Bank, Jabr is trying to develop a model of services that corresponds with the resources available

Samah Jabr is one of the first female psychiatrists in Palestine, and one of only 22 psychiatrists serving the occupied West Bank’s 2.5 million strong population.

Born in Jerusalem, Jabr grew up as a resident with no citizenship rights. Throughout her life, she was exposed to life under military occupation, witnessing the impact of traumatic events such as imprisonment and home demolitions on the psychological wellbeing of Palestinians.

“Growing up in Palestine as a Jerusalemite made me aware of the vulnerability of my situation, and made me understand that injustice is a very important pathogen that harms the wellbeing of the Palestinian people under occupation,” Jabr told MEMO.

After graduating from the School of Medicine at Al-Quds University, Jabr pursued advanced training in psychiatry and child psychotherapy in France, England and Palestine. Aside from her clinical work, she has also been documenting her experiences since 1998, writing for media outlets and producing scholarly publications for specialised journals.

“My work in medicine brought me close to the experiences of people,” she said, “and I feel an ethical responsibility to provide a testimony about the cases and the experiences of Palestinians.”

‘Unliveable’: Gaza’s rising suicide rates

Jabr tells me that she has encountered many victims of physical and psychological torture throughout her career, but it is always the less visible, less pronounced scars that strike her the most.

She relates the case of a young man who now sleeps with a bag of underwear next to his bed because he is in constant fear of re-arrest. Another case that left its mark on Jabr was that of a sisters whose mother was arrested by Israeli soldiers in a raid on their home. Fearing another raid, the girls slept in the middle room of the house for months instead of their bedrooms, fully dressed and wearing their headscarves.

Dr Samah Jabr

Dr Samah Jabr

“People are more interested in concrete injuries; the amputation of a leg or a head trauma,” she explains, “and we often don’t pay attention when it is not bloody.”

We talk about how many people were killed and how many were injured, but there is a lot of invisible, unseen suffering

“I perceive my ethical responsibility not only to do the palliative work necessary for managing the consequences of abuse, but also to inform and to do what can be done to stop the abuse and the injustice.”

She goes on to relate another story of a Palestinian boy who told her that the guards in prison were better than his father because they would give him a cigarette to smoke whilst his father wouldn’t. “Later, I learned from that boy how his father couldn’t protect him from being arrested,” she continues.

“This is a very small example of the kind of unseen damage vulnerable people suffer and the kind of abusive intimacy that people can have, which can disturb their feelings and value system,” she says, “and these examples were very common.”

Healthcare in Gaza: Is there any hope left?

Documenting trauma on film

Jabr’s encounters and insights into the psychological impact of life in Palestine were the subject of a documentary released in theatres in France last month. In the film, she narrates excerpts from her writings addressing what resistance means in the context of the Israeli occupation.

French film director Alexandra Dols contacted Jabr at end of 2012 wanting to feature her writings as the foundation of the documentary after she came across an article Jabr wrote in 2007 for the Washington Report on Middle East affairs entitled “Dancing to Different Drummers – But Dancing, Nevertheless”, which explored what one act meant to different individuals. The article starts off with an encounter with a patient of hers telling her how she was “dancing like a slaughtered chicken” when her son was killed, and then follows her other encounters that day with Israeli soldiers dancing at a checkpoint and later herself dancing at a family wedding.

Hesitant at first, Jabr wrote back to Alexandra in 2013 agreeing to the documentary. The crew arrived in Palestine towards the end of the year.

“Dols came with two volunteers,” Jabr says, pointing out the difficulties the team had encountered in securing funding for the montage. “But the fact that they were not supported by a big institution was reassuring for me,” Jabr says, indicating her concerns about mainstream censorship of her discourse. She explains:

I view resistance as a healthy response to the violent reality and the occupation, where people have to submit to injustice

This idea was echoed by the various Palestinian voices interviewed in the film, who come from a variety of backgrounds from across the political and ideological spectrum.

“The interviews and the recording of my articles took a lot of time,” Jabr adds, “but I am satisfied with the film.”

I liked how Dols visualised my articles. She made me read them and provided images and pictures that make the articles, the themes and the ideas that I’m writing about, more visible and more pronounced.

Having attended the first week of screenings in France, Jabr says she found the film to be a great tool for discussion, adding that the reaction was encouraging. “It’s a two-hour film but people would stay another two hours to discuss and ask questions,” she says.

“Some mental health professionals who attended were challenging me about the question of neutrality and impartiality,” she continues. “Some of them came with the assumption that being politically opinionated lacks professionalism and that allowed me to elaborate on the ethical responsibility that I find necessary, and on the importance of understanding the context…without ignoring the intrapersonal conflicts in individuals.”

Find out about Jabr’s latest film: Beyond the Frontlines: Tales of Resistance and Resilience in Palestine 

Following the screening, Jabr received a letter in which a member of the audience wrote that Israel must be suicidal to allow the film director to enter Jerusalem or to allow Jabr to travel abroad to criticise it. Her encounter with him was addressed in an article she wrote following the screening.

The film was also screened in Palestine and was accepted for the “Days of Cinema” film festival. It later won the Sunbird Award for best documentary.

The Israeli group of mental health professionals for human rights, PsychoActive, also hosted a screening of the film. “There was a spectrum of different reactions,” Jabr said, “and the first reaction was silence and sadness.”

While some Israelis were encouraged not just to have an opinion about the occupation but to act against it, others accused the film of being one-sided and lacking an Israeli perspective.

“The director makes it clear from the first scene, where there is a conversation between an Israeli and a Palestinian, that she has decided to follow the story of the Palestinian,” Jabr explains.

Mental health in Palestine

Fifty years of occupation have left Palestinians with one of the highest rates of mental health disorders in the Middle East, yet mental health services continue to be among the most under-resourced areas of health provision, with insufficient budgets and personnel.

“These deficiencies are not only influenced by the reality on the ground, but also by attitudes of policy makers in health,” Jabr says, “but in spite of these limitations, there is growth in this profession and we are doing a lot to improve it.”

In her capacity as the head of mental health services in the West Bank, Jabr is trying to develop a model of services that corresponds with the resources available. “I am trying to promote a hierarchy of services, by which general doctors, nurses and teachers can provide low intensity interventions to support the resilience and the wellbeing of people,” she adds, “to identify those who need help and refer the ones who need more specialised intervention to specialised professionals.”

(Source / 17.12.2017)

Guest Writer: Healthcare in Gaza: Is there any hope left?

Dr Munir Ravalia

Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, who have been under strict Israeli blockade for 11 years, are suffering of the severe lack of all basic needs with healthcare on top of them.

The World Employment Conference in 1976 proposed that the satisfaction of basic human needs is the overriding objective of any national and international development policy. When one looks at such a policy, one thinks of a traditional list of immediate basic needs: food, water, shelter and clothing. One could easily add sanitation, education and healthcare.

Abraham Maslow, in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” established the “Hierarchy of Needs.” It included safety, belonging and esteem, to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through. Such terms can be afforded to many around the globe, but what about the impoverished Gazan’s?

Over the decades, the Palestinian population in Gaza has been subjected to conditions many of us would not tolerate. As those around the globe prepare for the festivities of 2018 New Year’s celebrations, there is no glimmer of hope for Gazans, rather a continued sense of despair amongst the residents of this small strip of land surrounded by a heavily militarised land and waterway.

There are two ways in and out of Gaza; one via the Rafah border to Egypt; and the other is through the Erez crossing to Israel. Permits granted to Gazans to leave via this point decreased by over 50 per cent in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. With an ever increasing unemployment rate, many live well below the poverty line. The situation is described as being dire. Many preventable communicable diseases are suffered by the residents due to a lack of fresh drinking water, because of the destruction of a water purification plant, and lack of fuel which is needed to pump and treat sewage adding to the ever declining situation.

Public health is in crisis while the world watches on and does very little. Political shenanigans are played out while the pawns in this bigger game, namely the common man in Gaza, continue to suffer. Many wonder why their Arab neighbours do very little or nothing for their plight.

UNRWA describes the situation in the Gaza Strip as a “population suffering psychological trauma, poverty and environmental degradation, which has had a negative impact on residents’ physical and mental health; many, including children, suffer from anxiety, distress and depression.”

In July, the World Health Organisation described the situation as coming “close to collapse”. Electricity cuts and continued shortages of medicines and medical supplies in the Gaza Strip are severely restricting the access of two million people to critical medical care, WHO has warned. At least 30 hospitals, 70 primary health care centres and a blood bank are at risk of full or partial closure due to continued power outages and insufficient fuel or spare parts for back-up generators.

In October, Fatah and Hamas signed a preliminary reconciliatory deal over the control of the Gaza Strip, part of a series of attempts to end a decade long territorial, political and ideological split that has been crippling for individuals and statehood aspirations. Under the agreement, the Palestinian Authority is to take full control of the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip by December. In exchange, crippling restrictions on the electricity supply are to be lifted. Yet residents are not holding on to any hope; they have been promised so much over the years.

Dr Shadi Al-Yazji, a specialist dental surgeon in Gaza, gained his primary training in Bangalore, India, then moved to the Sudanese capital Khartoum. He describes how he was funded by the Sudanese government to become a specialist in his field. Sudan is well known for supporting many disadvantaged peoples throughout the globe.

Al-Yazli spoke about the general problems he faces with medical health care in Gaza. “The lack of availability of basic medicines which are supposed to come from Ramallah [the PA-controlled West Bank] is a real issue and is getting worse. The lack of many capable specialties such as cardiac surgery and neuro surgery, providing lifesaving care is non-existent. There is great difficulty in referring cases via the Erez gate as well as via the Rafah gate to Egypt, which is often closed for months on end.”

Al-Yazji describes day-today challenges in completing his work including a lack of electricity, “now only four hours a day and cut for 12 hours at a time”. This, he explains, puts severe restrictions on when and for how long he can treat patients.

Low incomes in the Strip mean patients are unable to afford the treatment they need leaving Al-Yazji offering huge discounts with prices only covering his overheads and the costs of feeding his family.

What can be done?

Al-Yazji feels that over the next few years there needs to be a concerted effort by central government to concentrate on preventive health campaigns. Should the matter be ignored, the morbidity rate will only increase, in particular patient care in oncology and cardiology. “We are seeing a serious spike in cancer cases in Gaza,” he explains.

It is clear that there is an ongoing effort to disable all public health amenities and keep the population surviving on the breadline. Unemployment brings with it financial strife which leads to a lack of nutrition. This is of particular important during pregnancy, for newborns and infants. Malnourishment can lead children to be immunocompromised leaving them at greater risk of being infected by a disease that an otherwise healthy child would not succumb to.

Collective punishment

Whatever one’s political viewpoint, the question remains should mothers and babies be subjected to collective punishment?

“Why should the world over be provided with funding to treat diseases such as diabetes , blood pressure, high cholesterol, big killers in the world often caused by excesses and overindulging, when in Gaza mothers and babies die because of the lack of basic medical care?” Al-Yazji asks.

Surely to bring peace to any land and any human, there has to be justice. If a child growing up in Gaza or the West Bank sees no justice, how can they then trust the world to make decisions on their behalf and really feel that peace is within sight? Is peace mere talk? Are their grandfathers right that there will never be peace without justice? Maybe for the people of Gaza the World Employment Conference and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are just another exercise on paper which are not afforded to them but are available to the rest of the world. Perhaps like the impotence of the UN and the Security Council.

(Source / 16.12.2017)

Documenting deaths as Israel’s restrictions on Gaza patient travel continue

This week the World Health Organisation (WHO) released its latest data on the restriction of movement for Palestinians requiring medical treatment outside of Gaza. The report demonstrates a continuing negative trend, with almost half (46%) of patients applying to leave Gaza via the Erez Crossing in March 2017 being refused a permit by the Israeli authorities, or not receiving a response in time to attend their appointments. This is up from 40% delayed or denied in February.

More than half (55%) of patients’ companions – family members accompanying patients to hospital – were also denied permits or received no response to their requests.

Gaza’s health system is struggling from the effects of a decade of blockade and closure, deemed collective punishment by the UN and the ICRC and contrary to international law, the impact of repeated military offensives, and frequent shortages of essential medications. Hospitals in Gaza have been further impacted recently by the ongoing fuel crisis which has caused them to reduce cleaning and sterilisation services and cancel some operations. Many medical specialties and treatments – such as radiotherapy for cancer and some cardiac surgery – are completely unavailable in Gaza, meaning that patients must be referred to hospitals elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory (East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank) or abroad to receive adequate care.

Behind each case of a denied or delayed permit is an individual story of a sick or injured person unable to access the care which they need. Sometimes these cases can have tragic outcomes, and the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights has recorded six cases this year of patients who have died after either being refused a permit or not receiving a response in time for them to reach hospital.

Shirin Mohamed Al-Ali, 39. Repeatedly received no response to requests for travel permits to receive cancer treatment at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem from late 2015 to early 2017. Died 9 January 2017 after the cancer metastasised to other parts of her body.

Ahmed Hasan Shubeir, 17. Had travelled several times to receive treatment for a congenital heart defect in hospitals in Israel and the West Bank. In February 2016, his family applied for a permit again, and his mother was summoned for security interview at Erez crossing, where attempts were reportedly made to coerce her into cooperating with the Israeli authorities in order to secure a permit. Subsequent attempts to receive a permit throughout 2016 received no response or were refused. Ahmed was himself reportedly coerced at an Israeli security interview in late 2016, and subsequently denied a permit. He died on 14 January 2017, two weeks before his re-scheduled appointment.

Eman Saleem Al-Kahlout, 48. Was urgently referred to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem on the morning of 11 February. She died later that evening of complications following a heart attack, after Israeli authorities stalled in assessing her application.

Aya Khalil Abu-Mutlaq, 5. Aya was born with a metabolic disorder which required treatment outside of Gaza. Israeli authorities failed to respond to two applications for permission to exit for appointments in February and March at the Al Mekassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. They re-scheduled a third time for an appointment  on 27 April, but while the family were awaiting a permit Aya’s health deteriorated and she died on 17 April 2017.

Walid Mohamed Qa’oud, 59. Underwent a partial colectomy for colon cancer in Gaza in 2008, and exited Gaza for scans at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem on 10 November 2015 after cancerous cells were detected in his lungs. On his way back to Gaza, Walid was reportedly detained by Israeli forces for six hours at the Erez crossing, where he was strip-searched, forced to stand in a stressful posture, and interrogated about his family. He was told he would not be allowed to exit again unless he brought his sons to meet Israeli intelligence agents. Later applications for exit for treatment at the Augusta Victoria Hospital were rejected or delayed, and in the meantime his health deteriorated. He attended one medical appointment in Egypt when able to exit via the Rafah crossing, but subsequent applications for exit via Erez were again not responded to. He was called to security interview on 21 March 2017 but was unable to attend due to his health. He died on 2 May, 2017.

Kholoud Alsa’aidni, 36. This month, the WHO highlighted the case of 36-year-old lab technician and mother of two Kholoud Alsa’aidni:

 “Alsa’aidni, a 36-year-old woman and lab technician from Al-Burij refugee camp, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the Gaza European hospital in April 2016. Following one chemotherapy session at Al-Rantesi Hospital, doctors in Gaza decided to refer her for treatment outside Gaza. Kholoud, a mother of two children, applied four times for an Israeli permit. Three times her request was still under study at the time of her hospital appointment, forcing her to miss appointments at Al Ahli Hospital in Hebron in December 2016 and in early January 2017 and at Augusta Victoria Hospital in late January 2017. Her fourth application for travel 22 February 2017 to Augusta Victoria Hospital was approved.

Kholoud’s mother, who was accompanying her on that date, said that when they arrived to Erez, Kholoud was stopped for a security interview. She was asked by Israeli security officers to provide information on one of her relatives in return for allowing her to cross Erez. Kholoud replied that she did not have any information about the relative.

At that point, said Kholoud’s mother, “We were forced by the Israeli security to return to Gaza. Altogether the travel to Erez, the waiting at the border and the security interview amounted to seven hours and Kholoud’s medical condition deteriorated as a result. We returned back at Al-Rantesi Hospital in Gaza. She was suffering from dehydration and was treated with a drip solution and a dose of chemotherapy over a period of five days.”

Kholoud’s husband arranged to change her medical referral to Egypt and she managed the difficult trip through Rafah and Sinai to Egypt on 8 March 2017 after 3 months of delay. In a Cairo hospital, her condition continued to deteriorate and she died on 12 March 2017.”

(Source / 19.05.2017)

Gaza patients denied right to get treatment abroad

Only 60% of Gaza patients granted Israeli permits to travel abroad for treatment

A Palestinian patient waits for a travel permit to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

Ramallah: The Gaza Health Ministry has accused the Israeli occupation of deliberately causing the death of dozens of patients by denying them the right to exit the Gaza Strip for treatment.

This inaction or denial of requests by the Israelis has resulted in prolonged suffering and even death for patients whose lives might have been saved had they been able to exit Gaza to seek the necessary treatment, the ministry said.

“This is an inhumane robbery of health. Only patients who cannot be provided with proper treatment in the Gaza Strip are transferred to other hospitals,” said Dr. Ashraf Al Qedrah, a spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry.

Al Qedrah noted that in 2016, more than 60 per cent of the cancer patients from Gaza have been denied the right to exit Gaza to be admitted to hospitals in the 1948 areas.

“The Health Ministry has submitted more than 26,000 completed requests for patients to exit the Gaza Strip for treatment abroad and the occupation authorities approved only 16,000 requests (61.5 per cent of the total requests) and rejected the others,” he said.

He said the latest Gazan victim was Mohammad Habib, 8, who died of a serious illness after the Israeli occupation refused to grant one of his relatives a permit to accompany him to Tel Hashomer Hospital in Israel. Last month, another young man from Gaza, Ahmad Hassan Jameel, 17, also died after the occupation authorities denied him a permit to travel abroad for treatment.

The Hamas affiliated website Al Majd has warned about the Israeli strategy of taking advantage of Gazans’ basic needs and using the patients and their families as a bargaining tool in return for allowing to cross the Erez border posts.

The Hamas Interior Ministry has also reported that many Palestinians who are in desperate need to provide their loved ones with proper treatment abroad have been forced to work for the Israelis. Following the arrest of dozens of collaborators with Israel by the Gaza Interior Ministry, the occupation authorities were in need of more collaborators in the Gaza Strip and they found a way to take advantage of the Gazans humanitarian needs.

Last week the occupation authorities refused to allow nitrous oxide, commonly used for anaesthesia, to be brought into the Gaza Strip until the World Health Organisation got directly involved.

In 2007 the Islamist movement of Hamas violently took over the tiny coastal strip following a brief civil war with its rival, the Fatah movement. Since then, Israel has imposed a strict maritime and land blockade on the strip which caused devastating economic conditions. Last year, the United Nations warned that Gaza may become uninhabitable by 2020 if there is no change in the economic situation.

(Source / 19.02.2017)

New infographic shows how restrictions of movement put Palestinian lives at risk

The latest infographic from Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) explores how Israeli Government’s restrictions on freedom of movement are putting the lives of Palestinian patients at risk.

Click here to see the infographic

Many patients from the West Bank or Gaza need to travel to East Jerusalem for specialist medical care unavailable elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), such as cardiac surgery and specialist cancer care.

However, barriers to freedom of movement are preventing and delaying patients from accessing urgent treatment in East Jerusalem: both due to delays to ambulances entering the city, and a restrictive system of permits.

Checkpoint delays

As visualised here, those requiring urgent treatment at hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem are systematically forced to transfer from Palestinian ambulances to Israeli-registered vehicles at checkpoints. This ‘back-to-back’ process is enforced even in critical and emergency cases, and can cause life-threatening delays.

Data collected by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) between October-December 2015 showed that this process took an average of 24 minutes during emergency cases.

The permit regime

Palestinians without a Jerusalem I.D. must obtain an Israeli-issued permit to travel to hospital in East Jerusalem.

Our infographic shows how Palestinians living in Gaza experience the harshest restrictions, with the number of permits issued by Israel to patients needing to exit Gaza for medical care falling to a record low in 2016. Last year one third of patients were either denied or delayed permits to travel, interrupting care and endangering recovery.

With the Rafah crossing with Egypt closed for most of the year, exit via the Erez crossing into Israel is vital for patients. Under international law, Israel is responsible for ensuring access to adequate medical treatment for the occupied population under its control.

MAP and PHRI are jointly calling for the Government of Israel to remove obstacles to movement and an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory and closure of Gaza.

June will mark 10 years of blockade and closure in Gaza and 50 years since Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory began. This infographic is the first in a series from MAP this year highlighting the effects of prolonged occupation on the health and dignity of Palestinians.

View the infographic here

(Source / 17.02.2017)

New MAP briefing exposes barriers to Palestinian healthcare

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) have today co-launched the first in a series of briefings exploring how Israel’s occupation affects the health and dignity of Palestinians.

This first volume exposes how barriers to freedom of movement imposed by Israel are preventing some Palestinian patients from being able to access centres of vital care. These barriers include the bureaucratic control of movement imposed by Israel’s permit regime, and physical barriers of the network of checkpoints which control access into and out of Gaza, the west Bank and East Jerusalem.

With many medical specialties such as radiotherapy and heart surgery only available in Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem, it is vital that patients and their companions are able to travel there unimpeded. This is especially true for patients in Gaza, where the health sector has been severely damaged by almost a decade of blockade, separation from the West Bank, and repeated conflict.

In 2016, the rate of approvals for permits to leave Gaza for treatment outside the territory dropped to its lowest level in seven years, with a third of patients delayed or denied by the Israeli authorities over the year.

“The very idea that a fence, a wall, a security guard, a bureaucrat could stand between you and such life-saving services should fill us all with a shared sense of dread.”

Robert Piper, UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities

In January this year, a 17-year-old boy from Gaza died after Israeli authorities refused him a permit to travel out of Gaza for treatment for a congenital heart defect. The same month also saw protests in Gaza from female cancer patients who had been refused permission to travel for vital treatment.

Free movement of patients and medical personnel is vital to the effectiveness of care. Ambulance and permit delays can lead to missed appointments and interrupted treatments, endangering the health and lives of patients.

International law stipulates that, as the Occupying Power, Israel has a duty to ensure adequate access to medical treatment for the population under its control. It is vital that governments like the UK place pressure on the Government of Israel to remove obstacles to the right to movement which undermine healthcare.

To read the briefing paper, click here.

(Source / 10.02.2017)