On Tuesday morning, 01 August 2017, a conference was held in Ramallah and Gaza on the “Right to Health: Palestine 2030”. The conference was organized by the Social and Economic Policies Monitor (al-Marsad) and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), as the latter hosted the conference in Gaza. The conference aimed at understanding and promoting the right to health via discussing approaches of Palestinian and international organizations and experts working in the health sector. The conference, which was organized in the context of following up and considering the social and economic policies and developmental interventions to achieve the social justice and mainly the right to health, was comprised of four sessions.
In his presentation on the “Closure and Internal Split and their Impact on the Health Sector in Gaza”, Lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, stressed that the Gaza Strip suffers from a serious setback in the health services’ sector due to the Israeli-imposed closure as well as the internal conflict for over 10 years. Sourani highlighted that the Israeli closure jeopardizes the lives of two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and denies thousands of patients the right to travel and receive advanced medical treatment abroad because of the lack of proper health services available in the Gaza Strip hospitals. As a result, the patients’ health conditions got worse while dozens of them died. In the cases that patients are allowed to travel, they get blackmailed and arrested at the Israeli-controlled crossings. Sourani added that hospitals and health centers in the Gaza Strip witness a serious decline of necessary medical equipment because of the Israeli authorities’ ban imposed on the entry of new equipment or spare parts for old ones. Sourani underscored that the consequences of the political division on the Gaza Strip increased the deterioration of health services to unprecedented levels.
The First session facilitated by Ref’at Sabbah, Director of Teacher Creativity Center, and discussed by Dr. ‘Ammar Dweik, General Director of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), highlighted the health policies and their contributions in achieving the right to health. The session included 4 presentations. The first one was delivered by Dr. As’ad al-Ramlawai, Deputy Minister of Helath, and titled as “The government’s vision to develop an improved public health system”; and the Second was delivered by Dr. Mustafa al-Barghuthi, Head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMS), and titled as “civil society’s role to deliver health services.” The third presentation was delivered by Dr. Mohammed al-Khalili, from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and titled as “Refugees and Health Services” while the fourth one was delivered by Feras Jaber, Researcher and Co-Founder of Al-Marsad, and titled as “Higher Budget…Better Health Services.”
The second session facilitated by Amal Khreisheh, General Director of the Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development (PWWSD), and discussed by Dr. Walid Namour, Executive Director of the Augusta Victoria Hospital, addressed the Role of Aid in Achieving the Right to Health. The session included 4 presentations. The first one was presented by Dr. Chaira Bodini, from the Third World Health Aid (TWHA)/ People’s Health Movement, and titled as “The People’s Health Movement as a Platform for Action for Health for All; and the second one was delivered by Dr. Mahmoud Daher, Director of World Health Organization (WHO), and titled as “Right to Health: Crossing Barriers to Access Health in the oPt.” The third presentation was delivered by Christina Etzell, from the Consulate General of Sweden in Jerusalem, and titled as “The Challenges that International Organizations Face in Supporting the Right to Health for Palestinians.” The Forth presentation was presented by Dr. Bem Bouquet, from WHO, titled as “Social Determinants of Health.”
The third session discussed the Right to Health in Times of War by Dr. Rita Giacaman, Professor of Public Health at Birzeit University, and Facilitated by Kefah Abu Ghosh from Stars of Hope. The session included many presentations. The first one was presented by Dr. François Bouchet Saulnier, Legal Director at Doctors without Borders, and titled as “Health in Times of War- Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.” The second was delivered by Ashraf Thomas, Human Rights Officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and titled as “The Right to Health under Occupation.” The Third presentation was delivered by Neil Sammonds, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns for Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), and titled as, ” How the Israeli Occupation Obstructs the Development of Palestinian Healthcare.” Meanwhile, Lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, delivered a presentation on “Impact of Blockade and Political Division on the Health Sector in Gaza Strip.”
The fourth session titled as “A National Scheme for Medical Malpractice Liability System” was facilitated by Dr. Salwa Najjab, Director of Juzoor for Health and Social Development, and discussed by Dr. Mamdouh Aker, from ICHR and Health Policy Forum. The session included 4 presentations; the first of which was delivered by Dr. As’ad al-Ramlawi, Deputy Minister of Health, and titled as “Palestinian Medical Malpractice Liability System.” The second presentation was delivered by Ghassan Namrouti, from the National Campaign for Medical Malpractices, and titled as “Role of the Campaign in Demanding a Medical Malpractice Liability System.” The third was delivered by Dr. Nitham Najib, from the Palestine Doctor Association, and titled as “The Association’s Vision on Medical Malpractice Liability System: To Differentiate between Negligence and Malpractice.” Mr. Amjad presented the last presentation titled as The Insurance Companies Vision on Medical Malpractice Liability System.”
At the end of the conference, discussion was opened for all participants, who then concluded to recommendations aiming at achieving social justice and promoting the right to health.