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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
1 March 2004

Health Inforum News
Volume 3, No.46, 1 March 2004

Welcome to the forty-sixth issue of the Health Inforum Newsletter.
In our ongoing efforts to provide useful information to the health community, we welcome any comments or suggestions that 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 or

In this Issue:

§ MoH signed an agreement for Organization of Mental Health Services in the oPt
§ Mental Health Effects of the Israeli Wall on Palestinians in Qalqilya District, A Pilot Questionnaire by the Palestinian Counseling Center
§ Health Incidents in the oPt
§ Requests
§ Upcoming Events

Mental Health System Reform

On the 22nd of February 2004, in the office of the Minister of Health, an agreement was signed on a new plan for the Organization of Mental Health Services in the oPt. This Plan represents a concerted, collaborative effort on the part of the various stakeholders in the Palestinian mental health system, led by the Steering Committee for Mental Health (appointed by the Ministry of Health in early 2003 and made up of representation of the Ministry of Health, the local NGO community, the UN system and the international donor community), and developed in constant cooperation and consultation with the mental health community at large.

The Plan was signed by the Minister of Health, Dr Jawad Tibi, and the local representatives of the three International partner agencies who are members of the Steering Committee: the Italian Cooperation-Dr. Antonio Aloi, the French Cooperation- Mr. Bernard Fillon and the World Health Organization (WHO)-Dr. Ambrogio Manenti. The Director of WHO’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department (Headquarters), Dr. Benedetto Saraceno, came from Geneva specifically to attend the signing ceremony and to convey the special commitment of his Department to mental health in the oPt.

The significance of this event is that the all parties expressed their commitment to achieving a reorganization of services leading to a community-based approach to mental health in the oPt, as stated in the signed plan. This plan represents the outcome of a successful model of cooperation between the MoH, international partners and NGOs, including all agencies dealing with mental health in Palestine in both the public and private sectors.

The general consensus is that efforts should now be consolidated towards the timely implementation of this plan and to anticipate and overcome the various expected and possible unexpected difficulties that may be faced.

The firm support of the Minister of Health towards this plan was obvious through his overt commitment to the following:
1. Empowering the Mental Health Structure within the Ministry itself
2. Supporting the Steering Committee to continue to advise, monitor and evaluate during all activities foreseen for the implementation phase
3. Emphasizing the need for cooperation and integration with non-governmental stakeholders in mental health sector, with the hope of producing an inspiring example for other sectors.

All partners in this endeavor share the hope that the Ministry will succeed in establishing a single Mental Health Department. This should be done to unify mental health services and to have one leadership which steers the operational level and the implementation of such a multi-sectoral Plan, moving mental health services into the community and cultivating consumers’ and patients’ rights.

Mental Health Effects of the Israeli Wall on Palestinians in the Qalqilya District: A Pilot Questionnaire by the Palestinian Counseling Center

Palestinian Counseling Center (PCC) conducted a pilot survey about the effects of the wall on the mental health of the Qalqilya District population. The survey was implemented in August and September 2003.
As PCC’s preliminary results show from the pilot phase, the psychological effects of the wall are represented by high percentages of depressions, feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and symptoms of PTSD, among residents in the Qalqilya area.
Three main factors in the community constitute the highest stressors:
1. Lack of social support systems
2. Limited social relations, as people are confined to their homes being every town and village cut off from the other and completely isolated.
3. Unemployment and poverty

For more information, please visit

Health Incidents in the oPt

Israeli army shot at PRCS and PMRS Ambulances in Rafah and in Ramallah

Gaza, 11 February 2004 (06:13): During the last Israeli army incursion into Rafah Refugee Camp, a PRCS ambulance was shot at by Israeli gunfire while transporting injured patients from the Al-Shout area, causing further injuries to the patient, and damaging the ambulance. Additionally, five other civilians were injured while assisting the PRCS crews in evacuating casualties, one of which subsequently died in the hospital.

Ramallah 25 February 2004: the Israeli forces obstructed several emergency teams of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society in their attempt to evacuate injured people. In one incident, one ambulance was shot at, prevented from moving, and the soldiers drove into its door. The ambulance was transporting a man with an abdominal gun injury.

Palestinian Medical Relief urgently calls on all humanitarian, human rights and health organizations to condemn this recent action.

In addition, ambulance delays and access denial at the checkpoint are listed in the following table:

PRCS Branch
Delayed/ Access denied
Beit Eiba
30 minutes*
210 minutes
Hebron12/2/2004Gilo 90 minutes then denied access
12/2/2004East Jerusalem40 minutes
22/2/2004Wadi Al Nar240 minutes
Gaza10/2/2004Al-Mawasi80 minutes
*The ambulance was stoned by the Israeli soldiers

Shortages in MOH drugs (March 1, 2004)

The Central Drug Store in Ramallah (MOH), has sent lately its needs for the coming six months. For those who are interested to fill the needs, please contact Dr. Rizeq Othman from the Central Drug Store for more details. For more information please visit our web portal

Upcoming Events

1. Access to Health in the oPt

Physicians for Human Rights will organize in Tel Aviv, in collaboration with Watching Machsom and the Gaza Mental Health program, a cultural event focused on the problems of access to health services in the oPt experienced by the Palestinian population.

Location: Tzavta,Tel Aviv

Date & Time: Thursdays 4 March 2004 at 19:30

Program will include: Discussion, Film Projection (Checkpoints), Art Performance

73 checkpoints, 456 earth mounds, 72 trenches, 35 road gates and 98 roadblocks are preventing free movement within the oPt that carry problems, suffering and distress to the Palestinian population.

“Access to basic preventive, curative and emergency care within the oPt must be insured”

2. Health Emergency Coordination Meeting

Date & time: Wednesday 17 March 2004 at 10:00AM-12PM

Location: Ramallah, Central Public Health Laboratory

Main Theme: “Health and segregation”, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi and Juan Jubran, HDIP


Please feel free to contact us at:
Health Inforum, c/o Italian Cooperation, Sheik Jarrah, East Jerusalem, Tel: 02 532 7447, Fax: 02 532 2904
Health Inforum, c/o WHO, Gaza office, Al-Bayed building, Al-Halbi Str. Tel: 08-2822033, Fax: 02-2845409


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