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Ref:79/2017

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses its deep concern that Augusta Victoria Hospital (al-Mutala’) in occupied Jerusalem stopped receiving the Gaza Strip patients referred for treatment due to accumulating debts owed by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Thus, PCHR calls upon the Palestinian Ministry of Health to pay off immediately the accumulating financial dues for al-Motala’ Hospital. PCHR also warns that  the Palestinian backboned organizations in occupied Jerusalem would collapse after the Palestinian Government withheld funds and payments of the financial dues at the time the Israeli authorities intensify its policies to create a Jewish majority in Jerusalem and paralyze and ruin the work of its institutions, which provide basic services to all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to information obtained by PCHR’s fieldworker, on Saturday, 21 October 2017, Gaza Strip’s patients referred for treatment in al-Mutala’ Hospital were surprised with phone calls from the hospital administration asking them not to come on their treatment appointments, which had been previously booked. The hospital administration attributed this to accumulating debts owed by the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and so not being able to provide health services for patients.

Moreover, the Treatment Abroad Department in Gaza confirmed that cancer patients, who obtained medical referrals and appointments in al-Motala’ Hospital, received phone calls from the hospital administration asking them not to come to the hospital according to their scheduled appointments until the hospital finds a solution with the Palestinian Ministry of Health regarding the financial burden. The Treatment Abroad added that these patients need radiotherapy and chemotherapy and their medical files are ready at the hospital, explaining that referring and treating these patients in other hospitals is very difficult due to the deterioration of their health condition.

As part of PCHR’s Follow-up of the patients crisis, Mohammed Bseiso, Lawyer at PCHR’s Legal Unit, met with Dr. Walid Nammour, General Manager of Augusta Victoria Hospital (al-Mutala’ Hospital) and briefed him on PCHR’s role in helping patients. Dr. Nammour warned of a total deterioration of the services provided by the hospital to kidney and cancer patients from the Gaza Strip and West Bank due to the aggravation of the financial crisis’s consequences arising from the accumulating debts owed by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Dr. Nammour added that the PA owes the Hospital around 122 million shekels, exceeding the  hospital’s capacity to bear other financial needs such as changing and maintaining machines. He confirmed that patients from the Gaza Strip get special treatment at Al-Matala’ Hospital due to the obstacles and long procedures facing them on their way to obtain permits in order to reach the hospital in Jerusalem.

According to Dr. Nammour, al-Mutala’ Hospital is the only Palestinian hospital that provides radiotherapy for cancer patients and other advanced services such as pediatric dialysis. These services provided by al-Mutala’ Hospital for the West Bank and Gaza Strip patients amount to 15 million shekels a month; 7 million of which goes for medicines and medications for cancer patients. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health’s data, al-Mutala’ Hospital ranks first in the number of patients referred for treatment outside the Ministry’s healthcare centers. The number of  patients monthly referred to the hospital is about 1000 patients; 300 patients from the Gaza Strip and 700 patients from the West Bank.

PCHR is deeply concerned that al-Motala’ Hospital stopped receiving the Gaza Strip patients due to the accumulating financial dues owed by the Ministry of Health. Thus, PCHR calls upon the Ministry of Health to pay off these dues immediately and protect each person’s right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental healthcare. PCHR also urges al-Motala’ hospital’s administration to reverse its decision to stop receiving patients referred by the Ministry of Health, particularly those from the Gaza Strip who are forced to undergo complex and long procedures to obtain a new medical referral and wait until they obtain entry permits from the Israeli authorities in order to access treatment in the West Bank hospitals, including occupied Jerusalem, and /or hospitals in Israel.

PCHR believes that the PA’s efforts should focus on supporting and strengthening the Palestinian institutions in occupied Jerusalem, considering this as a top priority in challenging the Israeli policies against the city and its institutions. For example, Jerusalem Hospitals, including al-Mutala’ and al-Maqased Hospitals which both provide medical services important for all Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the highest attainable standard. Moreover, PCHR warns of the serious consequences that result from stopping funding the Palestinian organizations in Jerusalem. PCHR clarified that these organizations face all the Israeli policies aiming at imposing siege on Jerusalem and its institutions, creating a Jewish Majority in the city, and isolating it from its natural geographical contiguity with the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.