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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
15 August 2002

Health Inforum News
Volume 1, No.10, 15 August 2002
______________________________________________________________________________________

In view of the recent re-alignment of the health operations room (HART), the name is changed into "Health Inforum".

Welcome to the tenth edition of the Health Inforum Newsletter (formerly HART News). In our ongoing efforts to provide useful information to the whole of the health community, we continue to welcome any comments or suggestions you might have to help us improve this newsletter. Each Newsletter has had a particular theme. If your organization has an information need that you would like to address, please let us know and will do our best to accommodate your request.

The theme of this issue is Nutritional Status of the Palestinian children and women. In light of the recent release of the preliminary findings from the "Nutritional Assessment and Sentinel Surveillance System for West Bank and Gaza - 5 August 2002" prepared by Al-Quds University, John Hopkins University and Global Group for Administrative Consults, and funded by the USAID, CARE international, we decided to dedicate this issue to the early reactions and responses of different organizations to the results. You can find a copy of this survey on our website under Situation & Needs Analysis -> Report Library.

In addition, the following news items are also covered:

1. Changing the name of "HART" to Health Inforum.
2. Humanitarian convoy for supply distribution to different districts in the west Bank.
3. On-line discussion surrounding the recently released nutrition survey.
4. USAID Announces Expansion of Community Psychosocial Support Program
5. World Health Organization has moved its office in Jerusalem

Ministry of Health Response to the Nutrition Survey Results

At a press conference on August 5th where the nutrition survey results were made public, Dr. Riyad Zanoun, Minister of Health, appealed to the whole international community to intervene and save the Palestinian children and women from the deterioration of health conditions caused by the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. He declared a state of emergency and called upon the USAID and the Donor Countries to assist with the following top priority initiatives:

  • Providing vitamins, iron (tablets & liquid) sufficient for pregnant women and children for one year.
  • Providing experts for the year to help add iron to flour whether imported or locally milled.
  • Focusing primary health care clinics in governmental sector, UNRWA and NGOs on the early diagnosis of anemia among the pregnant and on giving more attention to child health.
  • Guiding mothers and families to healthy, inexpensive food with high nutritional quality and encouraging breast-feeding through health education, school health programs and written and visual media.
  • Forming a committee to stimulate and track progress on the improvement nutritional health. The Committee should comprise the Ministry of Health, Supplies, Agriculture, Education and Youth and Sports in addition to representatives of local and international organizations, NGOs and activated National Nutrition Council. The proposed committee should have two coordinators in both Gaza and the West Bank and that joint meetings should be held by videoconference.
  • Undertaking the same research one year after the start of applying the new health policies in order to measure the improvement and consequently modify the plan.

    Nutritional Assessment Survey finds high rates of Malnutrition and Anemia in the West Bank and Gaza

    Al-Quds University, John Hopkins University and Global Group for Administrative Consults, international published the Preliminary findings from Nutritional Assessment and Sentinel Surveillance System for West Bank and Gaza (5 August 2002). The preliminary findings indicated an increase in the Number of malnourished children with 22.5% of children under 5 suffering from acute (9.3%) or chronic (13.2%) malnutrition. The preliminary rates particularly high in Gaza with the survey showing 13.2% of children suffering from acute malnutrition, putting them on par with children in countries such as Nigeria and Chad.

    Other early findings show that the rate of anemia in Palestinian children under 5 has reached 19.7%, while anemia rates of non-pregnant Palestinian women of childbearing age are 10.8%. The Survey funded by the USAID and CARE International.

    Mr. Lary Garber, the director of the international mission of the USAID, said in the press conference in Gaza (5 August) that the agency used a high-standard methodology in preparing the report, collecting the data, indicating that the survey was conducted on 1000 families randomly selected. He added that according to the results of the survey the USAID is willing to increase the contributions of food and aids through the World Food Program for food supplies and the International Community of The Red Cross, in addition to facilitating bringing iron tablets to the Palestinian market, organizing courses for some of the officials in the health sector in Palestine on the early diagnosis of anemia, malnutrition, and the way they should be treated.

    Nutrition/Health-Related Activities of the International Humanitarian Organizations and How these Organizations are Responding to the Survey Results

    In order to get a picture of how organizations are dealing with health/nutrition, of who is doing what and where, of the different responses to the nutrition survey results, Health Inforum conducted a rapid telephone survey of 12 International humanitarian organizations. Following are five key questions posed to each of the survey participants:



    1. Recent nutrition/health-related activities (Past month)
    2. Planned nutrition/health-related activities (Next month)
    3. Has the Nutrition Survey influenced your plans or activities. If yes, How?
    Yes
    No
    4. Are the Findings of the Nutritional Survey consistent with your perceptions from the field? If no, why?
    Yes
    No
    5. Do you think there is a need for a multi-sect oral Group dealing with Nutrition?
    Yes
    No
    If yes, would your organization like to be part of it?
    Yes
    No

    Out of 12 organizations, only 5 worked directly on nutrition. All the INGO's said that the findings of the Nutritional Survey consistent with their perception from the field. 75% said that the results of the surveys influenced their plans and activities. 50% mentioned there is a need for a Multi sect oral group to deal with nutrition issues.

    The following table shows more details concerning this rapid phone survey.

    Activities of Some INGO's Working in the Field of Nutrition/Health



    Item
    Save the Children
    ANERA
    CRS
    UNICEF
    WFP
    1. Recent activities- Food distribution to 140 families in Nablus & summer camps.-Food distribution
    -Baby food (formula) and Insura (liquid meal)
    None
    - promotion & protection.
    -Education on nutrition, breast-feeding & anemia.
    -Coordination for supplementation Children with Iron.
    -Food Emergency project (6months period, starts June02, will cover 300,000 person in Gaza and 200,000 in the West Bank.
    - Beneficiaries:
    Unskilled workers
    Children & pregnant women.
    -Social cases
    2.Planned activities- New programs
    - Receiving more proposals on nutrition.
    - Providing Cash to NGO's for buying food.-Food distribution
    to 6000 families in Jenin, Nablus & Bethlehem.
    4000 families in Gaza for 7 months.
    - Intervention measures.
    (Nutrition & anemia).
    -Awareness on feeding nationally.
    -Advocating adding Iron to Cornflower.
    -Baby friendly initiative to nutrition & breast-feeding.
    Ongoing until December.
    3.Influenced by the survey, If yes how?Yes, by more coordination with other.Yes, getting more funds for buying food.
    No
    Yes, more organizations with others.Yes, consider the survey very alarming indicator
    4.Consistent with perception, If No why?
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    5. Multi sect- oral
    Body
    Yes
    No,
    No
    Yes
    Yes
    6.Would you like to participate?
    Yes
    No
    No
    Yes
    Other news:

    Is the new name of "HART"
    In view of the recent re-alignment of the health operations room (HART), the name is changed into "Health Inforum".

    This name captures the important characteristics of the operations room, specifically information and dialogue. It also conveys openness, creativity and cooperation, all of them important values of the work.

    In English, the name is a play on words that can be interpreted in several ways:

    In forum - dialogue and discussion
    Inform - information and learning
    In form - in shape, structured
    Info room - an information service
    In Arabic, the name also translates very well "Multaqa As-siha".

    Health INFORUM will involve more closely the MOH, PNGOs and other health service providers in its operational mechanism. As the acute political crisis seems to move to a more permanent status of "chronic", longer-term emergency, Health INFORUM intends to respond to the new challenges and adapt to the new requirements by building on past achievements and consolidating its position within the existing health sector coordination structure built on the Sector Working Group, Core Group and Thematic Groups.

    Health INFORUM is currently already providing a number of services:

  • Regular reporting on the current on humanitarian health situation as well as the ongoing emergency response;
  • Health information for action oriented decision-making, through proactive information collection, synthesis and analysis, dissemination and feedback;
  • Mapping health issues, facilities and activities;
  • Networking to link Palestinian and international stakeholders and service providers;
  • Make available resources and reference materials on best practice in emergencies;
  • Catalyze action in the health sector through the facilitation of coordination meetings and processes (e.g. resource allocation, strategic planning).

    NEW REQUESTS:

    One new request (8 August) has come in from the Maternity Red Crescent Hospital- Jerusalem.

    Please check our website (http://hart.itcoop-jer.org/Urgent%20Requests/Forms/AllItems.htm) for more information.

    - ACTION POINT: PLEASE CONTACT Health Inforum AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if you are interested in responding to any of these requests!!

    - ACTION POINT: Health Inforum is calling upon all organizations involved in the procurement to keep us informed of requests made and actions taken so that we can better keep the health community abreast of urgent needs raised by health care facilities.

    Health Inforum Discussion Board is Online!

    Health Inforum has added a new feature to its website, the Health Inforum Discussion Board. The purpose of the Health Inforum Discussion Board is to stimulate open dialogue and debate around health issues in the Palestinian territories. It is a way to allow as many people as possible to share in discussions about important issues. It also intended to be a creative learning environment.

    Our hope is that by creating an open forum for discussion, we as a health community will be able to share, learn, adapt and be more effective.

    We realize that many of you will be new to online discussions and may find it somewhat intimidating. Rest assured that we do not expect, or want, you to publish your position on politically sensitive issues. The discussions are meant to be purely around practical operational health issues. You also neednĂ˝'t worry if you feel that your written English isn't up to scratch, people are interested in what you have to say, not your grammar.

    Currently we are discussing the preliminary findings of the "Nutritional Assessment and Sentinel Surveillance System for West Bank and Gaza - 5 August 2002".

    Please share your views about the results of this report and the implications it holds for your organization's activities.

    WFP & ICRC Emergency Health Convoys to the West Bank

    Under more normal circumstances, Ministry of Health trucks move medical supplies every two months from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) Central Stores in Ramallah to the other govern orates and then from the directorates to the villages. Due to the current curfews and the closures in the West Bank, however, Ministry of Health staff and trucks cannot gain access to local areas to reach their hospitals and clinics to supply them with the urgently needed medicines and supplies.

    To ensure that these essential medical supplies reach the hospitals and clinics in the West Bank, International organizations and donor countries have had to step in and support the Ministry with International trucks and drivers. During April and June of this year, ICRC, WFP, UNDP and Italian Cooperation together made 20 deliveries and completed the operation successfully on the 17th of June.

    For August and September, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Food Program (WFP) has taken on the job. The ICRC has provided a total of eight trucks, and the WFP provided 16 trucks, a total of 24 trucks were covered the following areas: Ramallah (including the villages Turmos Ayya, Silwad, and Aroura), Qalqilya, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem & Jericho, Salfit, Nablus and Tulkarem. WFP and ICRC will cover the remaining areas together. The following table is a breakdown of the deliveries.

    Number of delivered trucks of medicine by destination, delivery date and delivery provider



    Destination
    Trucks Needed
    Trucks Delivered
    Delivery
    Date
    Delivered by
    Trucks still needed
    Tulkarem
    3
    1
    2
    01/08/02
    16/08/02
    ICRC
    WFP
    0
    Nablus
    5
    1
    3
    1
    31/07/02
    06/08/02
    22/08/02
    ICRC
    WFP
    WFP
    0
    Jenin
    3
    2
    07/08/02
    WFP
    1
    Jericho
    2
    1*
    2
    27/07/02
    12/08/02
    ICRC
    WFP
    0
    Jerusalem
    1
    1*
    27/07/02
    ICRC
    0
    Bethlehem
    3
    1
    2
    27/07/02
    11/08/02
    ICRC
    WFP
    0
    Salfit
    1
    1
    28/07/02
    ICRC
    0
    Hebron
    4
    1
    3
    27/07/02
    8/08/02
    ICRC
    WFP
    0
    Qalqilya
    1
    1
    25/07/02
    ICRC
    0
    Ramallah (Villages)
    1
    1
    25/07/02
    ICRC
    0
    Beit Jala- Hebron
    1
    1
    22/08/02
    WFP
    0
    Total
    25
    24
    1

    * The same truck covered Jerusalem and Jericho in the same trip.

    We would like to express our sincere gratitude to ICRC and the WFP and to all of the individuals who have been involved in this effort. It has been a tremendous example of the power of cooperation.

    USAID Announces Expansion of Community Psychosocial Support Program

    USAID has awarded Save the Children a $3.2 million expansion for its on-going Community Psychosocial Support Program (CPSP) for the West Bank and Gaza, raising its total value to $5.2 million.

    The purpose of this expansion is to respond to the increased psychosocial support needs of children and adolescents, as a result of the on-going conflict. Under the expansion, the structured psychosocial support activities, including expressive play, art, drama, and group discussions, will be expanded to new geographic areas. In addition, discussions are underway to introduce a number of psychosocial support sessions into the Palestinian school curriculum, in close coordination with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and the National Psychosocial Coordinating Body, NPA.

    World Health Organization Has moved its Office in Jerusalem

    The World Health Organization (WHO) Office has recently moved from its previous location (Ibn Batuta St.), to its new premises (Old Nablus Road-Sheikh Jarrah). The WHO office is located in Tahboub Building, the second floor, below WFP Office near the Spanish Consulate and the EC Offices.

    Telephone: 02-540 0595
    Fax: 02-5810193
    Postal Address: P.O.Box 54812, Jerusalem

    WEBSITE:

    Health Inforum posts daily news and announcements concerning health issues on our website: http://hart.itcoop-jer.org. We welcome your inputs, comments and suggestions.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION

    Please feel free to contact us for information at:

    Health Inforum
    c/o the Italian Cooperation
    City Hotel (Opposite St. John's Hospital)
    Sheik Jarrah, East Jerusalem

    Tel: 02 532 7447
    Fax: 02 532 2904
    Email: hart@undp.org

    http://hart.itcoop-jer.org


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