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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
15 November 2003

Health Inforum News
Volume 2, No.39, 15 November 2003

Welcome to the thirty-ninth edition of the Health Inforum Newsletter.

In our ongoing efforts to provide useful information to the health community, we welcome any comments or suggestions you might have to help us to improve this newsletter. Please help us to distribute this update by forwarding it to your colleagues and friends. If you wish to subscribe, please send an email to

In this Issue:

Health Facilities (GIS) map of Gaza Strip

Health Inforum continued its effort in producing a (GIS) Health Facilities maps, the new expansion was to Gaza Strip. Now a new map of Gaza Strip related to Health Facilities allocation has been released for the first time in the oPt.

Geographic information systems (GIS) provide ideal platforms for the convergence of health facilities specific information and their analyses in relation to population settlements, surrounding social and health services and the natural environment. They are highly suitable for analyzing epidemiological data, revealing trends and interrelationships that would be more difficult to discover in tabular format. Moreover GIS allows policy makers to easily visualize problems in relation to existing health and social services and the natural environment and so more effectively target resources.

Since June, 2002, Health Inforum’s public health mapping programme has been leading a local partnership in the promotion and implementation of GIS to support decision-making for a wide range of public health programmes. West Bank map has been produced including the localities of the health facilities, type of services, level of services, bed ratio, and type of health provider.

Then to facilitate the field workers interest, Health Inforum produced the West Bank maps per district as a manual, which makes it easy to hold and use wherever you are.

Recently Health Inforum has produced the First Gaza Map, which includes the localities of the health facilities, type of services, level of services, and type of health provider.

All those Health Facilities Maps are available on our website: under the maps section, in addition, the Health Inforum is distributing those maps for each health stakeholder office free of charge, so Please Contact us to get your copy.

PRCS: The Israeli Army “Security Gates” Cordon Off Qalqilia Villages

PRCS’ Disaster Management Unit (DMU) recently conducted a Rapid Damage Assessment (RDA) survey for 12 villages in the Qalqilia district affected by the newly erected ‘security gates’. An estimated 10,000 – 15,000 village residents have been cordoned off by automatic ‘security gates’, which work using automatic timers. In most of the villages, these timers are set at 15 minute intervals three times a day when the gates are opened, while in the remaining villages the timers are set for one hour twice a day. As a result, the efforts needed to access health care services and schools have made daily life, for these residents, very difficult. The agriculture sector has also suffered as some of these gates have cut off farmers from their land and greenhouses. During their visit, the DMU in coordination with the Qalqilia Branch of PRCS visited twelve isolated villages and towns of the district, that are under siege. They are: Ras Atyyeh, Ezbet Al Dhab’a, Hebla, Ras Attereh, Ramadhin, Alshamali, Wadi al Rasha, Salman, ‘Azzun, ‘Azzun Atmeh, Flameyeh and Bayt Amin.

Results of the Rapid Damage Assessment
Palestinian Ministry of Health condemns killing the Nurse Hassan Abu Khatla

The Palestinian Ministry of health condemns the Israeli Army for the death of a Palestinian nurse, Abu Khatla, 55 years old from Rafah. He was killed in the early morning of Sunday 16 Nov. 2003 while in his way to the nearby Mosque. He was wounded in the chest, pelvis and the right arm and leg and he was already dead when he reached Al-Najar hospital in Rafah.

The ministry of health urges the international community to advocate and put pressure on Israel, in order to stop the killing of health personnel and to provide international protection to the Palestinian people.

In its press release the Ministry of Health declares that, in this regard, 27 health professionals were killed by the Israeli Army during the Intifada. The press release indicates the name of Dr. Zen Al-Abdeen Shaheen who was killed last month while performing his duties in providing first aid to the people wounded during the attack to Nusseirat refugee camp. The Ministry of Health appeals the United Nations Secretary General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Director General of the WHO and the President of the ICRC to intervene in order to implement the international conventions and to send international observers to witness the violent and tragic events.

ICRC: The medical mission must be respected and protected

Jerusalem 6th November 2003 (ICRC)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is increasingly concerned about repeated incidents in the Occupied and Autonomous Territories that demonstrate a lack of respect for the medical mission.

According to International Humanitarian Law, the medical mission benefits from special protection. Wounded and sick people as well as medical facilities, vehicles and personnel must not be attacked but respected and protected at all times.

It is prohibited to use civilian hospitals and medical vehicles for the conduct of hostilities.

Misusing hospitals or medical vehicles as a shelter or as a place from which to launch an attack puts the wounded and sick as well as medical staff at risk. It also disrupts the proper functioning of medical services for the civilian population.

Search and arrest operations in medical facilities must be carried out in a manner compatible with the protection due to the medical mission and patients, and take into due consideration the medical condition of the arrested person.

Both ambulances and individual members of medical staff must be respected, and allowed to move unharmed and with minimum delays, so that they can carry out their humanitarian duties.

The ICRC reiterates its call to all those involved in the current violence to respect and ensure respect for the wounded and sick, as well as for medical personnel, facilities and vehicles.

The ICRC remains committed to working in close cooperation with the Magen David Adom and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, in particular by supporting their emergency medical services and other life-saving activities.

Health Incidents at Checkpoints (November 1-15, 2003)

Following are the health incidents experienced by different health providers, distributed by district and checkpoint during the period 1-15 November 2003.

Health Emergency Coordination Meeting in Gaza

The Health Emergency Coordination Meeting (HECM) was held for the first time in Gaza on Wednesday 5 Nov. 2003. The meeting was opened in the presence of Dr. Jawad Al-Tebi, Palestinian Minister of Health. Representatives from the Ministry of health, UN agencies, International and Palestinian NGO’s have participated in this meeting.

Dr.Majed Abu Ramadan, MoH Director General of International Cooperation, opened the meeting by welcoming the participants and briefing them about the establishment of Health Inforum (HI) and of the Health Emergency Coordination Meetings (HECM). HI started in the West Bank more than one year ago, in response to the coordination needs that had emerged during the incursion. He stated that the MoH is extremely satisfied for the achievements of HI so far, and that all support will be provided by the MoH in order to facilitate HI activities in Gaza, including the regular organization of HECMs.

Dr. Abd El-Rahman Barqawi, Director General of the Ministry of Health, welcomed the participants and wished all the success for a common effort towards the health of the Palestinian people. Dr. Barqawi expressed appreciation for the efforts done by HI in the area of information gathering and dissemination, and welcomed the meeting in the premises of the MoH.

Dr. Silvia Pivetta, WHO Public Health Officer and in charge of the Gaza office, gave a brief overview about WHO activities in the oPT. She underlined WHO role on health coordination, being WHO the secretariat of the Health Sector Working Group, according to the LACC coordination structure. Within this mandate, on April 2002 WHO was delegated responsibility for the health operation room, hence HI was established. Dr Silvia emphasized that HI and the HECM focus has been both acute emergency and longer-term issues related to the state of chronic emergency. She suggested that the HECM should benefit from the WB experience although be adapted to the specificity of the Gaza context, with the help of the local stakeholders.

Mahmoud Daher, WHO project officer for HI, gave a presentation about HI and its objectives and achievements in the West Bank. Mr. Walid Shaqura, Director of International Relation in the MoH gave a brief presentation about the MoH activities.

Participants actively participated in the discussion and gave some recommendations for the agenda of the next meetings, including presenting the experience of different health providers dealing with the emergency situation during the Rafah incursion.

Revitalization of Health Coordination Mechanisms

The Sector Working Groups (SWGs) were established to strengthen the donors' coordination mechanisms following the signing of the Oslo accords. The Health Sector Working Group was established in 1995 to discuss issues related to general policy and strategy, macroeconomic indicators and resources within the health sector.

To make the Health SWG more informative and responsive to the issues arising in the health sector, the establishment of a core group – a more essentially represented and agile body - was proposed. In particular, the core group (CG) has been established to improve the organization of SWG meetings and follow-up the SWG decisions; to make decisions according to updated National Health priorities and to report to the SWG for presentation and formal endorsement; to facilitate the creation of "thematic groups". So far, a number of thematic groups (TGs) have been established: Nutrition, mental health, reproductive health and health information system thematic groups.

Following a period of suspension of the above coordination activities in the health sector, a core group meeting was held in Gaza in mid November 2003. During this meeting, the need to reactivate and strengthen the coordination mechanisms has been agreed among the key stakeholders.

WHO - the Secretariat for health - and the Italian Cooperation - the Sheppard - have been delegated the responsibility for gathering information and providing an overview about achievements and constraints related to the coordination mechanisms and bodies, starting from those related to the thematic TGs.

In particular, the information gathering about the TG work should serve the following objectives:

Within the core group meeting, on the bases of the analysis of the TGs experience, an open discussion on the findings should be followed by the development of an action plan for the revitalization of the “thematic group”/ ”core group” mechanisms of coordination.

Among others, the core group should provide recommendations on how to proceed with the thematic group activities in terms of:
A short report on the findings and on the results of the discussion of the core group will be prepared by WHO and distributed to all thematic groups and core group members. The report will also be published in the HI website.

Please feel free to contact us for information at:
Health Inforum,
c/o the Italian Cooperation
Sheik Jarrah, East Jerusalem
Tel: 02 532 7447,
Fax: 02 532 2904
Health Inforum posts daily news and announcements concerning health issues on its website: We welcome your inputs, comments and suggestions.

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