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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
6 April 2006

World Health Day 2006

Jerusalem, 6th April 2006- The World Health Day is celebrated each year on the 7th April. This years’ events will highlight the need for countries to strengthen the education, protection and effectiveness of the public health workforce. At the same time, the Palestinian public health system is threatened by the lack of international support and transfer of taxes to maintain the existent public health system which is already working with some difficulties. The World Health Organization (WHO) office for West Bank and Gaza organized a press conference to present the possible consequences on the health sector of the reduction of support to the PA from the international community and the Israeli suspension of VAT transfer.

According to WHO analysis, in the worst case scenario, if needed funds are not received, the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) will enter an acute financial crisis, will have a rapid decline of the public health system towards a possible collapse and there will be a shift of control and management of the health service system away from the public sector to NGOs, UN system and the private sector. In addition, the population will experience no access -or limited access- to preventive programmes and curative services.

Within this scenario, the health system will be affected by a paralysis of the MoH, or an MoH less capable of developing health policy, regulatory and coordination related functions; increased fragmentation and lack of homogeneity of standards and protocols that will produce inequities in the access to health services. There will also be lack or decreased amount of funds to cover MoH needs, affecting the salaries of 57% of all health workers -thus generating large absenteeism and increased drain of MoH professionals to NGO and private sector-; severe shortage of drugs and medical supplies; and increased proportion of health financing through user charges. There will be a breakdown of more than half of total PHC centers (56.5% of all PHC facilities are MoH run) and there will be a suspension of training and capacity building activities, as well as maintenance, rehabilitation and development of health facility network equipment and infrastructure.

As a consequence, 413 PHC centers and 140 to 252 maternal and child health clinics will be affected, leading to an important or drastic reduction of their service provision capacity towards their closure:

Preventive and promotive programmes will be affected: immunization (35% of the children in Gaza and 85% of the children in the WB); supplementation (72.8% and 47.9% of the children 3weeks -12 months in the WB and Gaza respectively and 78.9% of all pregnant women in the WB and 71.8% in Gaza); growth monitoring; antenatal and postnatal services (96.5% of all pregnant women and 33.5% of all pregnant women respectively); delivery services (55.2% of total deliveries); health education and promotion.

Curative and rehabilitative programmes will also be affected by the reduction or closure of secondary and tertiary level curative and rehabilitation care in MoH hospitals. Special concern lies in: the maternity services (47% of total maternity beds are from MoH); the general hospitals (61% of general hospital beds are located in MoH hospitals); surgical operations (72.4% were performed in the MoH hospitals); 482 patients on regular hemodialysis in the MoH hospitals; tertiary care services; and emergency services (26.84% of the total population received emergency services in MoH hospitals).

In addition, there is concern over the degradation of key social determinants of health: increased unemployment and purchasing capacity (including health services purchase); hampered sanitation, drainage and cleaning services, increasing the possibility of more infections and infestations (72.9% of the total population depends on the public water network, 50.9% depend on the public sewage disposable system); increased stress levels (frustration, helplessness, hopelessness), resulting in increased physical and psycho-social problems and social unrest; and increased nutritional problems.

Full analysis can be accessed through:
For additional information contact: Maria Restrepo, WHO 02 5400595, 0548022752

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