The health system in occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is operating under severe pressure due to the effects of the occupation, blockade, rapid population growth, and lack of adequate financial resources and shortages in basic supplies. In the Gaza Strip, years of blockade and movement restrictions on people and materials, including medical resources, compounded by the internal Palestinian divide, have led to a serious deterioration in the availability and quality of health services. The 2014 hostilities added further strain to the health sector. In the West Bank, the key concern is lack of access to quality and affordable health services. Many communities, particularly in Area C, face restricted access to basic health care as a result of insecurity due to the presence and actions of Israeli checkpoints and settler violence. Restrictions on the freedom of movement of patients and ambulances is a particular concern for those seeking specialized treatment in East Jerusalem hospitals.
Ahmed, a 50-year-old father of six from Gaza City, was diagnosed in 2018 with advanced colon cancer. Since then, he has been regularly referred to the August Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem for chemotherapy treatment. The suffering related to his disease has been amplified by the uncertainty of the process required to obtain an Israeli-issued exit permit and the hardships of the travel. “It took me about five hours to reach the hospital. It’s physically and mentally exhausting,” Ahmed explains.
The first fatality from COVID-19 in the oPt recorded in the West Bank on 25 March. Further social and movement restrictions introduced in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) Response Plan for COVID-19 seeks US$34m to prevent further transmission of the virus in the oPt.
On 22 March, the Palestinian Authority imposed a curfew in the West Bank for 14 days, obliging people to stay at home, except for the purchase of food and medicine, or in case of emergency. First two COVID-19 cases detected in Gaza; 1,400 people held in 21 quarantine centers across the Strip in precarious conditions. The COVID-19 Inter-agency Response Plan for the coming three months, is less than 23 per cent funded.
This dusty tent in a remote part of the northern Jordan Valley is normally home to 11 women and girls from the Daragmeh family in Al Maleh herding community in Tubas governorate. But for the past 14 years, for two days a week, it has also periodically functioned as a health clinic, providing primary healthcare to some of the region’s most vulnerable people.
For Sahar Al Nabaheen, the lack of access to regular, high-quality family planning information and services has all but defined her life. At 31, she lives with her husband and their six children in Al Bureij Camp, Middle Area Gaza. Three of Sahar’s pregnancies were unplanned due to a lack of available contraceptives. With her and her husband unable to find work, her family of eight are living on no income.
An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story: Anas Al Maniarawi is a 27-year-old student and aspiring mechanical engineer. He was in his final semester at university when his life was turned upside down. On 18 May 2018, he was hit by live ammunition, during one of the ‘Great March of Return’ (GMR) demonstrations at Israel’s perimeter fence surrounding the Gaza Strip. Anas was shot in his left leg, which had to be amputated below the knee due to muscle and bone damage