Another patient in Gaza dies after being denied access to hospital

Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights this week reported on another sad death of a Palestinian patient denied permission to travel to East Jerusalem for medical treatment.

According to Al Mezan, Tal’at Mahmoud Sulaiman Al Shawi, a 52 year old resident of Rafah, had kidney cancer. Tal’at’s 24 year old son, Mohammed, stated that, in the past year, his father had two courses of medical treatment at the Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem. However, he noted, since August 2016, Israeli authorities rejected his requests to exit Gaza for urgent treatment. Tal’at’s son pointed out that his father frequently obtained hospital appointments, but that no response was given by Israeli authorities to his travel permit requests.

After these severe delays to his urgently-needed medical treatment in East Jerusalem, Tal’at’s cancer metastasised to his spine, causing paralysis of the lower half of his body. Tal’at died on Sunday 28 May.

Tal’at’s is the seventh patient in Gaza who Al Mezan has recorded to have died this year after being refused a permit or not receiving a response in time for them to reach hospital.

If access to healthcare were improved, lives could be saved. Alarmingly, however, medical referral permits to exit Gaza are becoming harder for Palestinians to obtain. WHO figures have shown Israeli approvals of permits have declined year on year since 2012 and have fallen further  in 2017, with almost half (46%) of patients applying to leave Gaza via the Erez Crossing in March being refused a permit by the Israeli authorities, or not receiving a response in time to attend their appointments. In February, 40% were delayed or denied.

Access to healthcare is fundamental to the right to health. Without safe and unimpeded passage, patients often cannot physically get to hospitals and other health centres, rendering the quality and availability of treatment that awaits them meaningless. Yet Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza continue to face numerous physical and bureaucratic barriers to accessing effective treatment and care.

Throughout 2017 MAP is campaigning for the health and dignity of Palestinians, and the removal of barriers the healthcare. You can join our call via the link below.

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