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Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
15 June 2003




Health Inforum News
Volume 2, No.29, 15 June 2003
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to the twenty-ninth edition of the Health Inforum Newsletter.

In our ongoing efforts to provide useful information to the whole of the health community, we continue to welcome any comments or suggestions you might have to help us improve this newsletter.

In this Issue:


MoH: Israeli army killed 45 Palestinians and injured 348 during two weeks

Palestinian Ministry of Health appeals to the UN Secretary General, International Red Cross, World Health Organization, and all the international agencies to intervention for ending this dangerous escalation and to ensuring International protection to the unarmed Palestinian people.

According to MoH, during the last two weeks (1-14 June 2003), the Israeli army killed 45 persons including 3 children and 5 women. The number of injured during that period was 348.

Ministry of Health announced the top emergency in its hospitals in Gaza due to the large numbers of causalities.

Review of the Palestinian Health Sector (HSR)

The Health Sector Review has started in May 2003. The review aims to analyze major areas of the health sector, to assess the constraints resulting from the Intifada, and to suggest the elements for a refocused mid-term strategy.

The Sector Review represents a joint exercise among the main stakeholders in the health sector, under the leadership of the MOH. The EC, Italy, WHO, DFID and the World Bank are supporting this exercise.

The Health Sector review has been designed as a continue process, in which National and International experts and all the major stakeholders of the health sector will work together during a period of six months.

Between June and August the HSR team will work at the assessment and analysis of the health sector. In September two three days workshops will be organized in the West Bank and Gaza. A Conference will be organized between October and November.

It is expected that the health sector review will lead to the Institutional Reform process for the
health sector.


Statistics

PCBS: 63.3% of Palestinian Families Suffer from Poverty

A survey implemented by the Palestinian central bureau of statistics (PCBS) revealed that 63.3% of Palestinian families in the west bank and the Gaza strip with nearly 364,000 families that include 2.483 million people suffer from poverty. This rate was distributed at 53.7% of families in the west bank and 83.6% of families in the Gaza strip.

The results showed that 87% of Palestinian families in the west bank and the Gaza strip amounting to 501,000 families had diminished income since the Israeli war against the Palestinian people in September of the year 2000.

The survey was conducted in the period from April 5th till may 15th of this current year with the goal of monitoring changes happening in the living situations due to Israeli procedures during the last 32 months. Survey’s sample included 3486 families and field researchers completed interviews with 3001 families: 2033 families in the west bank and 968 families in the Gaza strip.


Media Release


ICRC Extends Emergency Relief to Palestinian People

Geneva (ICRC): The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has decided to extend its main relief programs for the Palestinian population of the West Bank to the end of 2003, at a cost of over 8.6 million US dollars. Under the previous budget, emergency support for Palestinians affected by the Israeli closure policy was scheduled to end in June. However, the ongoing violence and the stringent security measures maintained by the Israeli authorities have left many Palestinian households in dire need.

The organization's rural relief and urban voucher programs were started in the spring of 2002 after renewed Israeli military operations exacerbated hardship in the West Bank, with the movement of many Palestinian families being severely restricted and their income thus drastically reduced. Under the rural relief program, families receive food and other basic items while the urban voucher program provides town-dwellers with coupons, which they can exchange for goods in designated stores. A recent independent study shows that both ICRC programs have achieved their target of helping some 300,000 people.

Restrictions on freedom of movement, the destruction of land and other property, and blocked access to health care and other basic services have continued and in some instances become more severe. ICRC aid must nevertheless be viewed as an extraordinary and temporary measure: it is designed to help the most vulnerable members of the population face this worsening crisis and is no substitute for long-term economic stability. The study cited above showed that up to 60% of families in urban areas and 70% in the countryside fall below the World Bank poverty line. The ICRC is also concerned about the ongoing erosion over time of the coping mechanisms of Palestinians living in areas closed for long periods: debt is increasing, assets are being sold off, and nutrition is deteriorating. These trends point to a shift in the nature of the problem from a short-term crisis to a much deeper and longer-term economic breakdown.

The concerns of the Israeli authorities for the safety of their civilian population are widely acknowledged as legitimate. However, the measures they have imposed in the occupied Palestinian territories over the past two years run contrary to the basic rights of the population of those territories. Lack of access to income and basic goods and services has caused the economy to largely collapse, a situation which cannot be rectified by humanitarian aid, no matter what its scale.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, an occupying power must ensure that the basic needs of the civilian population are met. The provision of humanitarian aid in no way relieves Israel of its obligations toward the population of the territories it occupies. The ICRC therefore once again urges the Israeli authorities to meet their legitimate security needs in a manner that complies with international humanitarian law, by minimizing the adverse effects of their security measures on the civilian population in order to allow Palestinians to live as normal a
life as possible.

In view of the recent escalation of violence, the ICRC reiterates its urgent call for civilians to be spared and insists that all those concerned respect and ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law.
ICRC Press release No. 03/42
17 June 2003



Access & Health Incidents


Delaying Ambulances of PRCS on Israeli checkpoints:




Palestine Monitor: Latest Victim of Israeli soldiers preventing access to medical treatment

Muhammad Hassan Abu Qibeta, aged 65, died at the Yatta/Hebron checkpoint (June 14) after Israeli soldiers prevented him from travelling to Hebron.
Muhammad, from Yatta, a diabetic, suffered a heart attack; unable to provide him with the necessary treatment, the local doctor sent him to the nearest local hospital, which is in Hebron. However, when the ambulance arrived at the Israeli military checkpoint, the soldiers prevented Muhammad and the ambulance from crossing. After an hour spent with the ambulance driver and doctor trying to negotiate entry, Muhammad died.
In a related incident a small girl was prevented, by Israeli soldiers at the same checkpoint, from reaching Hebron hospital. Doctors in Yatta were eventually able to save the child, who was suffering an acute asthma attack.

According to data from The Palestine Monitor, Muhammad is the 80th Palestinian to die from prevention of access to medical treatment. These victims include newborn babies whose mothers gave birth at the checkpoint, kidney patients unable to reach hospital for life saving dialysis treatment, and other victims of heart attacks, strokes and various ailments.



Supplies & Medicines


MARAM Project has Delivered Vitamins & Drugs for MoH

MARAM Project, Funded by USAID has delivered to the Ministry of Health Vitamins and drugs with a cost of half million US$.

In a celebration in the Central Drug Stores, Dr. Munzer Sharif, the Deputy Minister of Health thanked the USAID and MARAM staff for their continuous support to the Palestinian Health Sector.

Dr. Ummaya Khamash, MARAM chief of party announced that delivery of these vitamins and drugs would support the MoH nutritional strategy plan. These supplies have been locally purchased as a support to the Palestinian economy.

CARE International delivering Medical Kits, Pharmaceuticals & Medical Disposables to Health Stakeholders through the period 7-12 June 2003

Emergency Medical Assistance Project (EMAP): The goal of the USAID-funded EMAP is to sustain and strengthen the healthcare system in the West Bank and Gaza in this time of crisis by providing medical equipment, supplies and technical assistance.



PRCS Receives two Blood Bank Vehicles Donated by the Readers of a Danish Newspaper

On the 10th of June, the Palestine Red Crescent Society Headquarters in Al-Bireh received two blood bank vehicles, which were donated by the readers of the Danish Newspaper Politikin. PRCS will use those two vehicles for the blood bank, which is a project of the Primary Health Care Department of PRCS. The function of the vehicles will be used to transfer blood between cities in the West Bank and Gaza. These two vehicles have equipment, such as refrigerators and containers, to keep the blood in good condition while transferring it over long distances. Politiken a prominent daily newspaper distributed in Danish.

UNFPA Delivers Emergency Reproductive Health (RH) commodities to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH), NGOs and UNRWA

As part of its emergency assistance, UNFPA has recently delivered essential RH commodities to meet urgent needs of RH key providers, including MOH, UNRWA and major NGOs over the next six months.

Such commodities include essential obstetric drugs, medical supplies, contraceptives, disposables, and RH kits that include professional delivery, episiotomy, condoms, and IUD kits.

They were identified in recent needs assessment carried out by UNFPA and its partners to ensure RH commodity security for the population of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

UNFPA contributed some 10% of an estimated $2.8 million of the RH essentials needed. Along with the MOH and UNRWA, RH commodities were delivered to major NGOs, such as the Red Crescent Society, Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and the Union of Health Work Committees. To meet the emergency needs and to ensure timely delivery of these commodities, UNFPA was able to deliver this shipment in 72 hours.

The Fund has appealed to the donor community to respond to the unmet needs. According to the established research, failure to meet the demand for RH commodities would have grave consequences on the health of the population including increased levels of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.

Through a special grant from OPEC:UNFPA and PFPPA inaugurate a new medical laboratory in Hebron

UNFPA, in collaboration with the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA), inaugurated a new medical laboratory at the Association’s branch in Hebron on Wednesday, June 4. The advanced laboratory equipment and supplies were made available through a grant from the OPEC Fund for International Development. Located at the heart of Hebron city, the lab will provide easy access to a wide range of services, such as early diagnosis of hemophilia and thalassemia and reproductive health and pregnancy tests. Such services will be offered at an affordable cost to the poor and disadvantaged population of Hebron. The immediate beneficiaries of the lab are the clients of a neighboring women health and counseling center, another symbol of partnership between UNFPA, OPEC and PFPPA. OPEC's grant is also utilized to train health personnel on emergency obstetric care, procure delivery kits and improve the capacity of a number of clinics to provide quality reproductive
health services.

These activities fall within UNFPA's humanitarian assistance program to improve availability of and access to reproductive health care, provide psychosocial counseling, empower women and prevent gender-based violence. In addition to OPEC, a number of other donors, such as Belgium, Austria, France and recently Japan have contributed to UNFPA's humanitarian interventions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

PSFCI Started the Distribution of Drugs With MoH

Pharmaciens Sans Frontières - Comité International (PSFCI) financed by ECHO (European Community Humanitarian Office), strated its activities with MOH on the 31st of MAY 2003, by escorting the MOH truck from the central Pharmacy of Ramallah to districts for the medicines transport. Following are the detailed needs assessment carried out by the PSFCI assessment team, the association undertakes an 8 month program based on:

Pharmaciens sans Frontières’s action, also aims at reinforcing compliance with procedures and protocols defined in 1996 by the Pharmaceutical Policy of the Ministry of Health.



New Publication


“Growing Up Under Curfew: Safeguarding the Basic Rights of Palestinian Children”.

Prepared by: Save the Children Sweden and Save the Children UK
Date of printing: May 2003

The report was presented to the UN Commission of Human Rights in Geneva in March 2002 and has been widely distributed through that forum to participating government representatives and international organisations.
Focusing on children’s views, it outlines the situation of Palestinian children during 2002 in terms of their rights deficit caused by the escalated violence, increased number of days of curfew and closure and the incursions into Palestinian communities. The consequences for children are multiple, their health and education have suffered and rights of disabled children have been particularly jeopardised. What do children have to say about it? What do children think about their present life, their future and the future of their families and their country?
These are just a few topics covered in the report.
The report combines secondary and primary research, including discussions with children, teachers, parents, care-givers and key-informants. Save the Children Sweden and Save the Children UK are proud to convey the voices of children which we see as the essence of our report.
For more information contact email: rb.meast@palnet.com


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