Health NGOs Representatives, human rights activists, and experts called for urgent international intervention to pressure the Israeli occupation authorities to facilitate Palestinian patients’ access to hospitals and health care centers and stop the violations against them.
This came during a dialogue session held by the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO Network) on “WHO Annual Report on the Right to Health in the Palestinian Territory for 2018”, within the framework of the project of “Strengthening Democracy and Building the Capacity of NGOs”.
The session, which was implemented in partnership with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), was attended by civil society and international organizations’ representatives.
The attendants of the session called for supporting and developing the Palestinian health care system to provide decent medical treatment for patients, in addition to providing easily accessed treatment and health services and respecting health care facilities, including hospitals and health centers.
They also stressed the Palestinians’ right to health, freedom of movement, medical transfers, and to improve their living and health conditions.
Mohammed Lafi, advocacy coordinator at the WHO Gaza office, presented the report, which included information on the access to health services in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, violations and recommendations.
In his presentation, Lafi explained that the access to health services in the West Bank is hindered by things such as the Apartheid Wall and Israeli military checkpoints. As for the Gaza Strip, the financial situation shapes the biggest obstacle.
At the end of his presentation, Lafi presented the World Health Organization recommendations, the most important of which are maintaining easy access for patients to medical treatment and services, respecting health facilities, respecting the right to health, improving Palestinian living and health conditions, and supporting the health system to maintain decent health care services.
Dr. Aed Yaghi, PNGO administrative board member, said that the World Health Organization (WHO) has been issuing annual reports on the health situation in Palestine since day one.
Yaghi pointed out that the Gaza Strip has been suffering for 12 straight years from the ongoing Israeli blockade, which caused a very critical health condition, in addition to the flagrant Israeli violations against Palestinian’s right to health.
The violations include obstructing the travel of patients and their companions, restricting their movement inside and outside Palestine and attacking medical staff and the health sector, especially during the Great March of Return protests, Yaghi continued.
Mr. Amjad Al-Shawa, PNGO Gaza director, said in his speech that the disastrous living and health conditions have negatively affected the lives of two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of whom live below the poverty line.
After that, Al-Shawa praised the head of the WHO office in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Mahmoud Daher, who will move to work with the organization’s office in the Turkish city of Gaziantep to help Syrian refugees.
For his part, the head of the WHO office in Palestine, Dr. Gerald Rockenschaub, said that there are abuses in the right to health in the Palestinian territories, pointing out that the international organization double checked all the information and figures mentioned in the report.
The facts and figures mentioned in the report present only one side of the truth, while the other side lies in the Palestinian stories and narrative, noting that the portraying the Palestinian side requires special eloquence skills to best promote it, according to Rockenschaub.
105 health experts in the world have sent letters to the WHO saying that they are using the stories and narratives mentioned in the reports of the organization in their speeches and writings, and urged the organization to pressure the Israeli occupation to stop the violations against the Palestinian health sector, which is a sign that our voice reaches the International community, he added.
This drives us to believe that we can work more with our civil society partners to make our voice clearer in the international community, Rockenschaub asserted.
At the end of the session, Dr. Mahmoud Daher, who served as the head of the WHO Gaza office for many years, was honored and praised by the attendants for his efforts in overcoming problems caused by the continuing political division and the Israeli violations.
Daher thanked the Palestinian NGOs network (PNGO Network) and everyone who cooperated with him during his time at the World Health Organization office.