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World Health Organization (WHO)
31 October 2004
Health Action in Crises
Issue 36: October 2004
WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP
Military action and the security situation in northern Gaza Strip are gravely restricting humanitarian access. The United Nations warned of an impending humanitarian crisis. Compiled by 12 UN agencies, the report calls for free access by UN agencies to locations throughout Gaza Strip.
WHO, in coordination with MoH, UNRWA and OCHA, has been monitoring the health implications of the security situation in northern Gaza Strip, which has deteriorated significantly since 28 Sept.
Only 50% of primary health care (PHC) centres normally operating in northern Gaza Strip are working or accessible to the population. The immunization programme, among other preventative programmes, has stalled. Patients with chronic diseases lack of access to routine care.
Despite movement restrictions for male Palestinians aged 16 to 35 in northern Gaza Strip, the transportation of wounded to Shifa Hospital is possible. However, there are continuing concerns about the affected population's access to primary and secondary health care services.
The MoH has supplied a list of 50 drugs for primary health care and emergencies. WHO shared this list with international partners and has received initial positive feedback.
Discussion took place with USAID on the implementation of the WHO nutrition project. Agreement was reached on ways to secure optimal results through co-ordination and strategic support for the MoH nutrition department.
WHO West Bank and Gaza staff met from 30 Sept. to 4 Oct. for an in-depth discussion on the role, goals, objectives and strategies of the WHO presence.
WHO organized two emergency coordination meetings. All UN agencies, donors and local NGOs participated in a situation analysis and contributed to a coordinated action plan.
WHO held a coordination meeting in Ramallah, West Bank, during which Maram/USAID presented findings of a survey on the prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency among children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Findings reveal that 22% of children aged 12-59 months suffer from vitamin A deficiency, and 54% of these have vitamin A levels indicating borderline deficiency.
Two WHO nutrition experts completed a 12-day mission for the WHO nutrition project.
WHO continued taking part in two UN coordination meetings on humanitarian operations in West Bank and Gaza Strip. In addition, WHO presented on "access to health services" at a meeting hosted by the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Gaza Community Mental Health Centre in Jerusalem.