MAP at the Scottish National Party Conference 2018

This October, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) attended the annual conference of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

At the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, MAP shared a stall with SNP Friends of Palestine (SNPFoP) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). Their joint table, just outside the main conference hall, featured an array of the organisations’ latest materials including four factsheets MAP recently produced on breast cancer, Area C, attacks on healthcare and the humanitarian emergency in Gaza. It attracted many delegates to the conference, including SNP Members of the Scottish Parliament and SNP Members of Parliament in Westminster.

MAP held a morning event which opened with Dr Mohammed Abu-Selmiya, Head of Rantisi Hospital in Gaza City, addressing the audience via a short, MAP-produced film. Dr Abu-Selmiya spoke of the severe difficulties the hospital faces, including shortages of fuel and medicines, particularly for cancer patients.

SNP MP and breast cancer surgeon Dr Philippa Whitford then followed with a fascinating overview of her work in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) over nearly three decades, beginning as a volunteer surgeon with MAP in Gaza. She described recent medical missions to Palestine, obstacles to adequate medical treatment, raising of awareness and improving treatment and patient pathways. She emphasised the importance of screening, which has improved considerably in Scotland but remains low in the oPt.  

After a visit to the oPt in 2016, Dr Whitford wrote in The Guardian that 28% of applications from patients in Gaza to exit for scheduled medical appointments were denied or delayed by Israel, meaning that cancer care pathways were skewered and treatment rendered ineffective. Neil picked up this point in his own presentation, highlighting that in 2017 46% of such permits were denied or delayed. One of at least 46 cancer patients in Gaza who died last year after having to miss scheduled appointments outside Gaza was Abeer Abu Jayyab who was known and loved by many working with MAP.

Neil shows a picture of three of the children of Abeer Abu Jayyab holding a framed picture of their late mother

Neil shows a picture of three of the children of Abeer Abu Jayyab holding a framed picture of their late mother

Neil recognised the highly positive role that so many Scots have played in supporting Palestinian health and well-being issues, with some 20 Scotland-based health-workers from more than 10 institutions contributing actively to MAP’s breast cancer care programmes alone.

Dr Whitford and MAP look forward to further development of breast cancer care in the oPt and of even closer ties between Palestinians and Scots.