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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
12 October 2008



Health Action in Crises: Highlights No. 229 – 6 to 12 October 2008

Each week, the World Health Organization Health Action in Crises in Geneva produces information highlights on critical health-related activities in countries where there are humanitarian crises. Drawing on the various WHO programmes, contributions cover activities from field and country offices and the support provided by WHO regional offices and headquarters. The mandate of the WHO departments specifically concerned with Emergency and Humanitarian Action in Crises is to increase the effectiveness of the WHO contribution to crisis preparedness and response, transition and recovery. This note, which is not exhaustive, is designed for internal use and does not reflect any official position of the WHO Secretariat.

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OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

Assessments and Events
• Access to quality health care has been further eroded in 2008 while the number of vulnerable people has risen.
• In the West Bank, the increasing number of road blocks and check points continues to restrict the movement of patients and health staff. Those most affected are children and women of childbearing age, older people as well as disabled and chronically sick people.
• In Gaza, a recent study demonstrated that the closure negatively affects all facets of life. The results show that 47% of patients are not able to get drugs, that social visits have diminished by 79% due to worsening financial and social conditions and that 96% of the people are sad or depressed. Children and women are excessively affected particularly in terms of nutritional deficiency.
• Supply of essential medicines to Gaza could also become problematical. The central drug store has not received any deliveries since 1 September apart from two shipments of urgently needed supplies which were coordinated by WHO.
• Finally, the situation is aggravated by the health workers strike.

Actions
• In Gaza, WHO monitors the impact of the health workers’ strike on the delivery of services in MoH hospitals and clinics that may have long-term repercussions.
• The CAP brought together UN agencies, the authorities, international and national NGOs and donors in Gaza, Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah. The
objectives for the health sector include:
• advocating for improved access to health care;
• ensuring that vulnerable populations have access to quality essential health services;
• ensuring a coordinated response to new and emerging health needs and greater protection against environmental hazards and natural disasters;
• empowering vulnerable communities by their strengthening capacities to address immediate health needs.
• Adequate funding is needed for monitoring, coordination and advocacy.
• WHO’s emergency activities are funded by ECHO, Italy, Norway, OCHA-Spain and the CERF.


More information is available at: www.emro.who.int/palestine/

In January, ECHA called for the establishment of a task force to map out critical issues and propose practical solutions to Palestinian and Israeli authorities.
• The recently-established humanitarian country team activated the protection and food security clusters in August. Discussions are taking place for rolling out the Health and Water/Sanitation Clusters.

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