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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
21 July 2006



STATEMENT OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
ON THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

ECOSOC

21 July 2006


The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), especially in the Gaza Strip is continuously deteriorating due to military activities and movement restrictions. In addition, the funding crisis of the Palestinian Authority (PA) at large and the Ministry of Health (MoH) in particular, is threatening the delivery of essential health services and programmes. The MoH manages 60% of health services and all public health programmes. Should this crisis continue, the Palestinian health system will further deteriorate and services will be disrupted, with grave consequences to the health of the Palestinian people. An early sign of this disruption is the shortage of essential drugs and supplies (around 25% of the essential drug list and 20% of the disposable supplies have reached a point of zero stock).

During the last years, the MoH has succeeded in preventing and controlling most infectious diseases. To sustain this achievement, the national surveillance system should be maintained and strengthened. Non-communicable diseases are the main cause of death. They need not only ambulatory treatment but also laboratory support as well as referral services.

WHO's work in the oPt comprises three components of assistance:1) support to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 2) a regular budget programme for supporting key developments in public health, and 3) a humanitarian health component within the revised Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP).

Following WHA Resolution 59/3, WHO organized a meeting on 12 June attended by MoH, UNRWA, World Bank, OCHA, other UN agencies and around 30 donors to review the current health situation and to discuss mechanisms to address the needs of the population in the oPt for averting a health crisis. A proposal to develop an urgent funding mechanism was discussed. In the meantime WHO has been monitoring the health situation and accessibility to health care through the use of a list of short term indicators developed jointly with other UN partners.

The international community has recently formulated a plan of action – the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) – under the umbrella of the Quartet, which is still being operationalized It is important, though, to ensure that essential public health functions and delivery of critical health services are not compromised in the meantime.

Following the endorsement by the Quartet of the EC's Temporary International mechanism (TIM), WHO's position has been not to create a parallel mechanism and to support the EC and the World Bank in expediting the implementation of the TIM. We have been closely consulting with WB and EC over the last few weeks. However, prompt action is needed to avoid a collapse of the health care system

In the meantime, there are urgent needs for essential medicines and supplies that have to be met as soon as possible. WHO is responding to the urgent needs from its internal resources but the funds available are limited since the health component of the newly revised CAP is poorly funded; so far less than 5% funded.

WHO has developed a strategy to cope with the current health situation. It has revised its contribution to the CAP 2006 to reduce vulnerability, and identified immediate steps to deal with the health crisis in the Gaza Strip for saving lives and for reducing suffering. Within this framework, WHO is planning to scale up its technical presence for better coordination and advocacy, and to sustain the delivery of essential health services and programmes through supporting the basic public health functions, provision of vaccines, consumables, essential supplies and response to other urgent needs. WHO aims to provide support to the health in the oPt while the TIM gains momentum and becomes fully operational.



STATEMENT OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
ON THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
ECOSOC
21 July 2006

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