Gaps in Palestinian health care9th March 2009
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have fragmented health services, according to a new study, due to the restrictions imposed upon people by Israeli security forces, poor management, and a growing population.
The study is the product of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and includes contributions by researchers from universities in the US, Norway, France, and the West Bank.
Infant mortality rates have risen sharply, as well as mental health cases, and many Palestinians find it difficult to find treatment for heart disease or cancer.
Tuberculosis in the West Bank and Gaza rose by more than half between 1999 and 2003, with mental disorders up by a third.
Between 10% and 30% of Palestinian children suffer a detriment to their cognitive development and physical health from malnutrition.
Hannan Abdul Rahim said that the trend of stunted growth among children is increasing, and that people are concerned about the long-term effects of chronic malnutrition.
The study said that movement restrictions affect every aspect of Palestinian life, and that this directly affects the health of Palestinians.
Richard Horton of The Lancet said that the research they have done is not about Arab politics, the status of Israel, or peacekeeping efforts.
A spokesperson for the Israeli government said that the report was one-sided, and that some 28,000 Palestinian land crossings from the border at the Gaza Strip were made during a two year span.
He said that these border crossings were made so that people could access medical services.
He said that Israel as a policy enables people from all over the world to come to Israel for advanced medical treatment.
Mark Regev, another Israeli government spokesperson, said that the report was propaganda.
But experts from Birzeit University say that infant mortality rates and deaths of expecting mothers have not declined the way they have in other countries in the region, despite the availibility of good care and the number of child immunisations.
Abdul Rahim said that this is due to gaps in healthcare, such as a low level of post-natal care.
He said that there are pockets in northern Gaza where the level of stunted growth reaches 30%, and that it was very important that women and children have access to quality care.
Awad Mataria said that political havoc was one of the reasons for the failure of the health system, exaggerated and perpetuated under occupation.
Horton said that the latest storm of violence to engulf Gaza had been heartbreaking to watch, especially for those who had seen at first hand the predicaments faced by health professionals.
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Title: Gaps in Palestinian health care
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 10485
Date Added: 9th Mar 2009