MAP at Medact’s Health Through Peace Conference 2017

By Feryal Awan, Research and Advocacy Manager, Medact

A severe electricity shortage in Gaza has left residents with little as two hours of power a day. Fuel reserves are at risk of running out for public hospitals, currently reliant on backup generators for most of the day. This fuel shortage threatens the closure of essential health services leaving people without access to life-saving healthcare.

Prolonged conflicts not only kill and maim but put entire health systems at risk of collapse, further damaging the chances for civilian populations to live healthy lives.

And there are worrying trends in the way international conflicts are being conducted. The erosion of international humanitarian law through targeted bombings of hospitals and attacks on humanitarian workers are becoming more apparent.

Medical professionals including Medact have spoken out against the inhumane blockade of Gaza. The offensive on Gaza in 2014 left thousands of Palestinian civilians killed and ten thousand injured. Defending and reasserting the critical role of international humanitarian law and ethical norms in the conduct of war, conflict and violence are one important objective. As is strengthening the mandate and agency of the UN in upholding international law.

My charity, Medact, provides a platform for UK health professionals to address the underlying determinants of war and other threats to global health, including climate change and poverty. Medact’s ambition is to encourage and enable the health community to be effective and progressive social change agents. We work mainly in the UK, but also work across national boundaries through international affiliations such as the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and in partnership with others such as Physicians for Social Responsibility in the USA and Medico International in Germany.

In November 2015, we ran the ‘Health Through Peace’ 2015 conference which saw 700 members of the health community discuss the impact of war, violence and militarism on health.

This September in York, Medact and IPPNW will bring together health professionals and peace activists to debate, educate and advocate for social justice and demilitarisation.

Register for the conference

We are delighted to welcome Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) who will conduct a workshop on the barriers to the development of Palestinian healthcare. The interactive workshop will include discussion on how prolonged occupation has limited Palestinian health workers’ access to training and professional development and how MAP is challenging these barriers through their training and advocacy programmes. Given the many tragic conflicts currently blighting the Middle East it has never been more important for the international health community to come together and fulfil this role.

You can also hear from MAP’s advocacy partners - Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights and Physicians for Human Rights in Israel on solitary confinement practices in Israel and the recently passed force-feeding law.

So please join us in York and strengthen our progressive health movement speaking out against war, violence and human right violations.

The Health Through Peace Conference will be held in York from 4-6 September 2017.

Speakers include: Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta, American University of Beirut, President-Elect of the World Medical Association Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura, Faculty of Public Health President John Middleton, General Secretary at Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Kate Hudson, and more.