MAP at Right to Health conference, Ramallah, 1-2 August 2017

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) was pleased to be invited to participate in a conference in Ramallah last week on the right to health.

Our Advocacy and Campaigns Director, Neil Sammonds, travelled to the West Bank for two days of talks and activities on the health of people in the occupied Palestinian territory and obstacles to them fully realising their rights. The conference brought together scores of researchers, medical professionals, representatives of the Ministries of Health in both the West Bank and (remotely) Gaza, the World Health Organisation (WHO), UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and others.

Organised by Social and Economic Policies Monitor (Al-Marsad), the day-long conference was divided into sessions on national health policies, the role of aid, health provision in time of war, and medical malpractice.

Neil’s presentation focused on MAP’s ongoing work documenting obstacles to the provision of healthcare in the oPt and dangers to it during conflict, and as such showcased MAP’s Health under Occupation series of briefings and infographics.

Participants also debated the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and the reported deaths of patients denied medical referrals outside the area. Al-Marsad premiered a short film on the subject, Exit Denied, which MAP hopes to be able to present itself in due course. Not only the occupying power, Israel, but national duty-bearers and the international community were urged not to implement measures that jeopardised the health of such vulnerable patients nor of the wider population.

The following day, Neil joined a small group of delegates and visited the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, where they heard form a range of health-workers about the difficulties they face daily in carrying out their vital work. A common theme was the limitations on the care they can provide, given the equipment and training available to them. They were using an old ultrasound in their maternity department, for example, because their more modern one was damaged more than a year ago and cannot be fixed locally.  The group then were taken to Jalazone refugee camp to see its UNRWA Health Centre, Women’s Centre and to hear from Popular Committee representatives. The efforts of all concerned were impressive, but sadly the political and economic challenges they face appear almost overwhelming.

Throughout these two days and rest of his visit, Neil was delighted to hear, time and again, how highly regarded MAP is. Thanks to all who keep it that way.