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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
25 May 2004

Health Inforum News
Volume 2, No.34, 01 September 2003

Welcome to the thirty-fourth edition of the Health Inforum Newsletter.
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In this Issue:

· Dr. Al-Sherafi met with WHO Head of Office in oPt
· Improving Mental Health Services in OPt: The Next Steps
· Giving Birth at Beit Fourik Checkpoint. ……
· Press Release: Medecins du Monde, Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (28.8.03)
· US $ 200,000 the cost of damage to HWC clinic in Nablus.
· PRCS: Israeli army may have contributed to the death of an elderly woman at an Israeli checkpoint.
· PRCS Ambulances Delays at Checkpoints (16-29 August, 03)
· Activities of health promotion and education department of MoH.
· Dr. Ambrogio Manenti is the new WHO Head of Office in oPt.

Dr. Al-Sherafi met with WHO Head of Office in oPt

Dr. Kamal Al-Sharafi, the Minister of Health, met on 29 August 2003 with Dr. Ambrogio Manenti, Head of WHO Office in oPt.

Dr. Sherafi stressed the importance of continuing cooperation with WHO in order to address urgent needs and the on-going development of the health services.

Minister of Health explained to Dr. Manenti the continuing Israeli violations against patients, health workers and health institutions. He also raised the access problem and the fact that closures and curfews prevent patients and health workers from reaching health services.

Dr. Al- Sherafi asked WHO to exert pressure on the Israeli authorities to respect international law regarding patients and health services.

“WHO” is a strong partner of MoH, and supporting the formulation and implementation of national health policy according to the principles of equity and sustainability, as well as advocating for health to be considered as a top national priority.

Improving Mental Health Services in OPt: The Next Steps

Bradley Brigham, WHO Jerusalem

WHO-Geneva (Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence [MSD] and the Health Action in Crises [HAC] Department) will host a 3-day workshop entitled ‘Planning and Organization of Mental Health Services in the West Bank and Gaza’ on September 8 – 10 in Geneva. This important meeting will involve the presence and participation of the Palestinian Steering Committee for Mental Health, which is comprised of representatives from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (West Bank and Gaza), representatives of the Palestinian NGO community, representatives of the donor community and representatives of

WHO’s Jerusalem office. The meeting will be facilitated by Dr. B. Saraceno, Director of the MSD, and other attendees include various members of the MSD and HAC, and two international mental health policy experts. This undertaking represents a crucial component of the on-going Community Mental Health project currently being implemented by WHO and the Ministry of Health in the West Bank and Gaza.

In the recent past, joint assessments by the Ministry of Health, WHO and other relevant agencies have revealed significant mental health needs among the population in Gaza and the West Bank. The necessity of rational and rapid development and reorganization of the mental health services towards better access, quality and efficiency has thus been declared an important priority by the Ministry of Health. The aim of the Geneva workshop, therefore, is to bring the above-mentioned parties together for an intensive working session in order to prepare and launch a common vision of planning and reorganization of these services.

This work will be based on the extensive feedback and input received from Palestinian mental health professionals during the conferences (“Community Mental Health Development in OPt”) held in Ramallah and Gaza in July. All of the information and recommendations emanating from these conferences have now been synthesized into a draft document on the organization of services in the West Bank and Gaza. This document will serve as the basis for discussion during the Geneva meeting, after which an updated draft will be produced to be worked on by all of the parties concerned, over the months to come. The contents of this document will ultimately be finalized and implemented by the Ministry of Health.

The overarching goal of this endeavor is to lead to the rationalization and strengthening of mental health services in OPt, based on a community mental health approach, allowing for improved support and access to quality services for those suffering from mental health problems, and allowing for decreased dependence on the existing mental hospitals. Access and Health Incidents

Giving birth at Beit Foureek Check point

August 28, 2003...Rula Ishtay, a 32 years old lady living in Salem, a small village near Nablus gave birth at Beit Foureek check point stated in her village, with the help of her husband ( Dauod Mahmoud Ishtay, 43 years old)after they were denied to access that check point by the Israeli soldiers, where the new born baby passed away immediately.

Dauod Ishtay (the husband) said : “in the early morning, me and Rula went to the check point while she was in labor . I asked the soldiers to let us pass to the hospital in Nablus. After waiting for about 75 minutes, Rula’s situation was getting worse but none of my attempts helped us to pass.

Finally I was forced to state my wife behind a rock 20 meters away from the check point to help her giving birth. I was so confused what to do? later on, I had no solution but to cut the umbilical cord using two stones. Unfortunately the newborn baby passed away after few minutes.

After the soldiers made sure that the lady gave birth and that the infant was dead they let them pass to Nablus carrying their baby’s dead body to the hospital where the physicians assured the newborn death.

Rula still under shock in addition to the inability of moving her hands properly due to the stretch of holding her dead baby.

Press Release: Medecins du Monde, Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (28.8.03)

Medecins du Monde (MdM), Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC) are joining their voices to denounce a series of violations of basic humanitarian laws and principles committed by the Israeli Army in Nablus. These violations are taking place in the overall context of massive military operations led by the Israeli army for more than a week. Among widespread violations of the international humanitarian law, we have noted the following:

In the night of 25 to 26 August, Israeli military forces entered the emergency services of Rafidia hospital to arrest two seriously wounded patients, admitted in intensive care unit. The violent methods employed by the soldiers put the life of the two persons into real danger.

On August 21, one clinic belonging to the UPMRC and Health Work Committees, in the old city of Nablus, was invaded by the army.

On August 26, Israeli soldiers forced their way into the MDM / Nablus municipality dispensary, occupied the medical facility, searched the medical files and damaged the premises. The occupation of this medical facility lasted more than one day and prevented the surrounding population to access basic health cares. The medical personnel have been several times denied in the right to access the dispensary and to provide medical assistance.

On 28 August, MDM witnessed the refusal of Israeli soldiers to let a UPMRC emergency team provide first aid to civilians retained by the soldiers in a building. Meanwhile, UPMRC staff trying to provide assistance to the Balata Camp population was prevented from entering. In addition, the soldiers confiscated and destroyed their ID cards.

In reaction to these persistent and repeated breaches of international humanitarian conventions, MDM, PHR-Israel and UPRMRC are demanding that the Israeli authorities stop violating basic humanitarian principles and respect the fundamental rights of every patient to access health services and that medical personnel be allowed to move freely at any time

US $ 200,000 the cost of damage to HWC clinic in Nablus

According to the Health Work Committees (HWC) release, the Israeli army raided their clinic in the old city of Nablus during the night of 23 August 2003. Explosives caused enormous damage to the rooms and equipment and blew off all doors on the west side.

Health Work Committees reported that seven rooms were almost completely destroyed, including the entrance railing and roof, all the windows, furniture in all rooms, water and electrical networks and the isolation walls and false ceiling. In addition, the following equipment was damaged:

1. Echocardiography machine
2. Ultrasound machine
3. Cell counter machine
4. Microscope
5. Spectrophotometer
6. All the equipment in the dental clinic

Health Work Committees estimated the amount of damage caused by the Israeli army to be US$ 200,000. This Center was able to serve more than 50,000 people annually from Nablus and surrounding areas.

PRCS: Israeli Army may have contributed to the death of an elderly woman at an Israeli checkpoint

At 4:12 in the afternoon of 22-8-2003, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society’s EMS center in Tulkarem was informed that a 75-year-old female patient from the Safareen village, in critical condition, was waiting with her doctor at the Beit Leed intersection to be transported to hospital. Immediately, an ambulance went to the scene. However, when the crew arrived at the Al-Kafreeyat checkpoint, they found it closed by a barrier and barbwire. The driver started calling out to the soldiers at the checkpoint using the ambulance’s loudspeaker, explaining to them that the case was urgent. However, the soldiers at the tower came down and walked to the ambulance, which took them about 10 minutes. During that time, the driver called to the soldiers through the loudspeaker and sounded the horn on several occasions to urge them to hurry up.

The soldier eventually started to inspect the ambulance. For a further 7 minutes, one of the soldiers argued with the crew because they did not have a permit to reach the Beit Leed intersection, alleging that they needed such a permit because Tulkarem is a closed military area. In the meantime, the doctor looking after the patient phoned the EMS center to report that the patient had passed away.

PRCS Ambulances Delays at Checkpoints (16-29 August, 03)
16-22 August 03
23-29 August 03
No. of Incidents12921
Delay on checkpoints (hours)12.5719.5
Denied Access224
For more information please contact Press Office at: phone: +972 2 240 6515/6/7


Health In Field

Activities of health promotion and education department of the MoH

The Health Promotion and Education Department within the MoH initiated a national campaign to support breastfeeding in OPt. This campaign began on the 1st of August and aims to improve attitudes towards the concept of breastfeeding and reinforce the issue as a basic part of mother and child health. It also aims to raise public awareness, especially of mothers and health providers, towards the rights of mothers to get health care without external influences that may affect the natural process of breastfeeding. The campaign aims also to explore opportunities and challenges that may affect breastfeeding in the era of globalization. In addition, it serves to enforce the implementation of global strategies of child nutrition and breastfeeding and facilitate the use of available information regarding rules and regulations that might be implemented on the local level.

Activities and achievements of the national campaign:

The National Committee of Health Education was invited to a meeting in order to discuss the proposed suggestions of participant organizations.

A follow-up committee was formed and includes the Health Education Department, Ard El-Insan organization and UNRWA, to prepare for an open day and workshop.

Media and press were invited to cover the campaign

Lectures were held in health facilities on the issue of breastfeeding. More than 1200 women who attend these health facilities were contacted and were given health education regarding breastfeeding.

Summer camps were also used to raise the issue of breastfeeding; an open day was held on 14 August 2003 with the participation of more than 130 persons from all relevant institutes
and organizations. During this open day three papers related to “the national strategy of breastfeeding”, “breastfeeding in Islam” and “emergency neonatal feeding” were presented.

The participants of the open day provided conclusions and recommendations that included the empowerment of the National Committee of Health Education and the formation of a breastfeeding support group, the raising of public awareness and the establishment of rules and regulations in health facilities regarding this issue, and the strengthening of the relationship with mass media in all levels.

Dr. Ambrogio Manenti is the Head of WHO office in oPt

Dr. Ambrogio Manenti has been recently appointed as the Head of Office for the WHO in the oPt.

Dr. Manenti has been involved in emergency relief and humanitarian work at the World Health Organization “WHO” since 1992. During the last two years he was working with the Department of Emergency and Humanitarian Action based at “WHO” headquarters in Geneva dealing with the occupied Palestinian territory and with the Health as a Bridge for Peace initiative.

His work at the “WHO” took him to the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and the Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia), Iraqi Kurdistan and Sri Lanka.

Prior to his work at the “WHO”, Dr. Manenti held numerous positions in planning, management and research of public health and health education projects in South America (Argentina, Bolivia Guatemala), Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador), Africa (Gambia), the Middle East (Gaza Strip) and Europe (Italy).

Dr. Manenti holds degrees in Medicine, Public Health Management and Health Education.


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