MAP at Medact’s Health Through Peace Conference 2017

On 4-6 September, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) participated in the Health Through Peace Conference in York. The conference, held biannually by Medact, provides a platform for health professionals and academics to gather and discuss threats to global health, including occupation and poverty.  

MAP’s Campaigns Officer, Roisin Jacklin, spoke on a panel alongside representatives of two of our advocacy partners – Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) and Palestinian Lawyers for Human Rights (PLHR) – to discuss the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israel and their frequent subjection to unethical treatment, which can engender direct risks of psychological trauma and negative health outcomes.

The panel discussed a variety of issues, including the systematic use solitary confinement and administrative detention of Palestinians, and explored how such practices negatively impact the psychological well-being of prisoners. MAP focused on the impact of detention on the mental health and psychological well-being of Palestinian children.

MAP noted that since 1967, Israel had convicted an estimated 700,000 Palestinians in military courts. Among these, 500 to 700 children are detained and prosecuted each year. Arrest and detention can have serious repercussions for long-term psychological well-being, causing high rates of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as causing attentional and educational difficulties.

MAP also stressed that arrest and detention by Israeli forces is just one of the many challenges to mental health caused by the occupation. The presence of an occupying military is particularly damaging to the mental well-being of children. In Gaza, a decade of blockade and closure poses additional challenges to well-being, including severe restrictions on movement and a lack of access to adequate essential resources such as water, healthcare and electricity.

The discussion closed with the short film “Breaking the generations: Palestinian prisoners and medical rights”, introduced by the co-director Caroline Rooney.

At the conference, MAP also ran a workshop, which explored how occupation obstructs the development of Palestinian healthcare, one of our four key issues highlighted in our Health Under Occupation briefings.

MAP discussed how prolonged occupation impedes the professional development of Palestinian health workers, with Israel’s restrictive permit regime preventing many healthcare professionals and trainees from travelling to other areas in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) or abroad for training. MAP also discussed restrictions on the entry of reconstruction materials and medical equipment into Gaza, and how Palestinians living in Area C – the 60 per cent of the West Bank under full Israeli military and civil control – are routinely prevented from building permanent infrastructure, including healthcare facilities

As many of the challenges to Palestinians’ rights to health and dignity are man-made, the solutions must be too. The interactive workshop ended with an exploration of how medical professionals can help motivate political action to address issues like occupation and blockade, and participants discussed ideas for how their voices could  support MAP’s Health and Dignity campaign.

MAP’s petition will be delivered to the UK Government in November. If you have not yet signed the petition, you can add your name below.

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