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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
15 July 2003

Health Inforum News
Volume 2, No.31, 15 July 2003

Welcome to the twenty-first edition of the Health Inforum Newsletter.

In our ongoing efforts to provide useful information to the whole of the health community, we welcome any comments or suggestions you might have to help us 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:

Dr. Ricardo Sole is finishing his mission

Dr. Ricardo Sloe, the World Health Organization “WHO” Coordinator In oPt will finish his mission by July 18, 2003. Health Inforum and WHO staff would like to express their sincere thanks and gratitude to
Dr. Sole for his contribution in developing the WHO office in oPt and his support to the health sector in Palestine.
Note for the Press From the WHO Office for the West Bank and Gaza


Focus on development of community mental health programs

Ramallah, West Bank. Under the slogan “Mental health for all – policies and strategies” the Ministry of Health of the Palestinian National Authority and the World Health Organization (WHO) office in Jerusalem have, over the past four days, brought local and international mental health experts together to evaluate existing services for people with mental health problems in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and to find ways to improve them.

According to the Ministry of Health, during the last two years the number of people with mental disorders in the oPt has doubled. Mainly children under 18 suffer from trauma-related disorders. “We need to put mental health higher on the agenda in order to respond to the crisis and provide patients with better treatment and care” said Dr Yousef Awadallah, representing the Minister of Health of the Palestinian National Authority, at the opening of the conference.

Ongoing violence, closures and curfews and the occupation of most Palestinian self-rule areas are among the main causes of psychological distress among the population. “Traumatic events such as shootings, death or injury of a family member, the demolition of homes and house-to-house searches leave permanent scars in the minds of the people,” said Dr. Eyad Sarraj, Chairman of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, “we need to establish more community based mental health programs that can help those unable to cope with their experiences of violence.”

Representatives from the Ministry of Health and local and international mental health experts and NGOs working in the oPt agreed on the urgent need to implement a comprehensive mental health policy in the oPt. This would involve increasing the number of mental health centers, reorganizing psychiatric hospitals, and training of health personnel working with patients who suffer from severe mental disorders.

For more information please contact Melanie Zipperer in Jerusalem, mobile: (+41) 79 477 1722, or (+972) 57 553 294, email:

Ministry of Health Report (January-June 2003)

MoH released recently a report on health incidents and violations against health facilities and health workers during the first six months of the year 2003.

According to MoH report Israeli forces killed 465 Palestinians, out of them 112 children under 18 years old and injured 3608 during the same period.

Main Incidents and violations:

PRCS Health Incidents 28 June - 11 July 2003

Nablus 30 June 2003 (09:40): Israeli soldiers at the Shafi Shamron checkpoint stopped a PRCS ambulance transporting two patients from Sebastian village to Nablus. The soldiers denied passage to the ambulance. The ambulance crew contacted the EMS station and requested ICRC coordination. During this time, one of the soldiers approached the ambulance and asked them why they hadn’t returned back, but as the driver began to answer, the soldier took the driver by the neck and started hitting him on the face. Another soldier intervened and allowed the ambulance to pass.

Hebron 30 June 2003 (08:40): An ambulance transporting three cardiac patients to a Ramallah hospital was stopped by an Israeli Army jeep. Israeli soldiers searched the ambulance and the patients, and then ordered the patients to get out of the ambulance. The medics refused to obey the order due to the condition the patients. The medics were ordered to stand under the hot sun for one hour and then were allowed to continue on their way.

Once back-to-back ambulance transfer was completed for three patients, the first ambulance picked up another patient suffering from severe leg injuries as a result of a car accident. The ambulance was stopped again at Beit Eba checkpoint. After waiting two hours at the checkpoint, the condition of the patient began to deteriorate further. The ambulance was detained at Beit Eba checkpoint for a total of six hours. The reason given by the soldiers was that the patient was not carrying an ID card, although the medics informed the soldiers that it was lost during the car accident.

Nablus 1 July 2003 (14:40): At Shafi Shamron checkpoint, Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance transporting patients from Al Watani Hospital to Sebastia village. Soldiers searched the ambulance and checked the IDs of the crew and the patients. After a short time, the soldiers commanded the driver to turn off the engine and for everyone to get out of the ambulance. The soldiers returned the crews and patients IDs except for one of the EMS medics. At gunpoint, the soldier forced the medic to sit on the ground and began hitting him on the neck his face. A second soldier also began shouting verbal insults and beating him on his back and legs. After some time had passed, the soldiers ordered the driver to cross the checkpoint, but he refused to do so without his colleague. The soldiers threatened to shoot at the ambulance if they didn’t leave. The ambulance driver waited near the checkpoint until the medic was finally released after a half hour.

Nablus 2 July 2003 (14:00): PRCS ambulance received a call about a person requiring medical assistance near Quseen checkpoint. The ambulance reached the checkpoint but Israeli soldiers refused to allow passage. After ICRC coordination, the medics transferred the patient to the ambulance and began to administer first aid. However, after a short time, the soldiers commanded the crew to take her out of the ambulance and leave. The patient was stabilized, however the crew was obliged to return back without the patient.

Nablus 2 July 2003 (15:50): Israeli soldiers at the Shafi Shamron checkpoint stopped a PRCS ambulance transporting three patients to a second ambulance from Jenin. After coordination with ICRC, the ambulance was allowed to pass after being detained for an hour.

Nablus 3 July 2003 (15:30): An ambulance on its way back from Sarra village to Nablus City was stopped by Israeli soldiers at a spontaneous checkpoint. The soldiers ordered the driver to get out of the ambulance and then drove off to an unknown destination for more than 20 minutes leaving the PRCS ambulance driver at the checkpoint. Upon their return, the soldiers body searched and verbally abused the driver. The soldiers returned the ambulance keys to the driver and threatened to shoot him if he returned. The ambulance was detained for a total of two hours and a half. PRCS informed the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Israel military DCO.

Tubas 5 July 2003(12:00): Israeli soldiers at the Beit Eba checkpoint stopped an ambulance transporting patients to their homes in Tubas village. After detaining the ambulance for two hours the soldiers commanded the crew to return back because according to the soldiers, the ambulance was not carrying critical cases. The patients were obliged to cross the checkpoint on foot, and the ambulance returned to the EMS station.

Qalqilia 6 July 2003: A PRCS ambulance transporting two patients to hospital in Nablus was stopped by Israeli soldiers at the District Coordinating Office (D.C.O) checkpoint. The soldier searched the ambulance, ordered everyone out, and checked the crew’s and patient’s IDs. Soldiers also ordered one of the medics to take off his upper clothes, searching him, taking his belongings and obliging him to sit on the ground. The crew tried to explain the critical condition of the patient and that the patient was being transported in order to undergo emergency surgery, but the soldiers refused to listen and arrested the patient without giving a reason for the arrest. The crew returned to the EMS station.

Nablus 11 July 2003(15:45): An ambulance transporting an injured person from Sadet Yasoof village to hospital in Nablus was stopped at gunpoint by settlers at the village exit. The armed settlers also had with them attack dogs. The settlers ordered the crew to turn off the ignition and to get out of the ambulance. The crew tried to explain that they were transporting a critical case but the settlers took the crew’s and patient’s IDs, and detained the ambulance for more than 15 minutes. During this time, the settlers warned the crew that they will shoot at the ambulance if they returned to the area. The same ambulance was stopped again at the Howwara checkpoint and detained for half an hour.

In addition to the above mentioned, the following table lists delay of access

(Four cases of total denial of access during this reporting period).

These incidents constitute a breach of articles (19,24 & 25) of the First Geneva Convention, which guarantees the protection of medical units, establishments and personnel as well as articles (27, 55 and 56) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which calls for the protection of civilians.

For more information please contact Press Office at: phone: +972 2 240 6515/6/7

Health Inforum Web Survey/Main Findings

Health Inforum conducted a survey to understand how we can deliver what the healthcare community expects from Health Inforum, particularly through the website. There were 22 questions in the survey covering three elements: The Health Inforum website, Health Inforum newsletter and the Palestinian Healthcare Directory

Main Findings:
Health Inforum launches its new portal

The staff of Health Inforum is pleased to introduce the improved Health Inforum portal. Thanks to your suggestions and feedback we were able to add interactive features and functions that will contribute to provide the medical community in Palestine with more up to date information on health.

If you wish, you can subscribe to our newsletter. With the newsletter you will also receive advanced information about other forthcoming services.

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