UK Government responds to our breast cancer campaign

In October 2016, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) launched a campaign calling on the UK Government to do more to protect Palestinian women affected by breast cancer.

In the UK, four out of five women diagnosed with breast cancer can expect to survive beyond five years. In the occupied Palestinian territory, however, some estimates put the survival rate at half that.

Life under occupation poses significant obstacles for Palestinian women with breast cancer in need of effective treatment and care. Patients suffer restrictions of movement, shortages of essential medicines, and the shortcomings of the health system in the occupied Palestinian territory.

You can read more about these issues in our fact sheet and infographic here.

We would like to say thank you to each of the more than 400 people who wrote to their MPs to raise this vital issue. 

The Department for International Development have issued a response to our campaign which you can read below, pledging the Government's ongoing commitment to supporting the development of healthcare services in the occupied Palestinian territory.

This pledge of support is welcome, however it must be matched by political and diplomatic efforts to remove the barriers to health access faced by breast cancer patients, and ultimately to end Israel's 50-year military occupation of which they are a part.

MAP will continue to lobby the Government to raise this matter and related issues with the Israeli authorities. At least two Palestinian women in Gaza have already died this year after their access to breast cancer treatment was restricted by Israel's permit regime.


Department for International Development response to our campaign

Available on the gov.uk website here (pdf). 

"Whilst we have not raised this specific issue with the Israeli authorities, we have consistently called on the Israeli Government at the highest levels to ease movement and access restrictions, including when the Foreign Secretary met Prime Minister Netanyahu on 30 September. Access to essential medical treatment is clearly an important issue, and we will seek appropriate opportunities to raise this.

The restrictions imposed in Gaza pose a particular barrier to medical access for
Palestinians. The UK provided £10 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross between 2013 and 2015 to deliver emergency medical services and rehabilitate hospitals, including in Gaza. In close coordination with the Office of the Quartet and EU partners, we continue to lobby the appropriate Israeli authorities on the issue of improving movement and access into Gaza. The closure of the Rafah Crossing also has an impact on urgent medical and other priority cases in Gaza. We encourage Egypt to show maximum flexibility on opening the Rafah crossing.

The UK also supports the Access Coordination Unit (ACU) to support humanitarian access into and out of the West Bank and Gaza. The ACU works with the World Health Organisation, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and aid agencies to facilitate the transfer of medical equipment, supplies and patient referrals as well as producing data and reports that support advocacy for improved access and adherence to existing agreements.

The UK’s previous support to the Palestinian Authority has helped build Palestinian institutions, promote economic growth and support the provision of basic services such as health care. The Secretary of State is currently conducting a full examination of our work in the OPTs, including our financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. I can assure you that the UK remains firmly committed to supporting the Palestinian Authority to build and strengthen the institutions needed for a two-state solution, a core part of which is building its capacity to deliver services including healthcare.

The context for these problems is, of course, the need for a just and lasting resolution that ends the occupation and delivers peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. The UK Government believes that a negotiated two-state solution is the only way to end conflict once and for all. We do not underestimate the challenges, but firmly believe that if both parties show leadership, peace is possible." 


MAP's projects help ensure that Palestinian women can receive the care and support they need when diagnosed with breast cancer. Your gift today could help many more women survive breast cancer.

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You can also show your support for Palestinian women with breast cancer by adding the Palestine Breast Cancer Awareness Twibbon to your Twitter or Facebook profile.

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