WHO report: Palestinians’ access to healthcare at mercy of Israel

Bethlehem/ PNN/

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released its monthly report of the situation patients have been facing in Palestine in November 2018.

Due to the impoverished circumstances in Gaza, many residents need to travel outside the confines of the Israeli-Gazan border to receive appropriate health care. However, despite necessity of medical care, access to these hospitals and facilities has been routinely obstructed by Israeli security.

In November 2018, there were 2,519 applications to cross the Erez border for health care. 29% were children, 16% of applicants were 60 years plus, 43% female and 92% were medically funded by Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Of those 2519 applications, 62% were approved, 31% were delayed without certainty of outcome and 180 people were denied access. The people who were denied had a range of required treatment such as orthopedic appointments, neurosurgery, cancer treatment and general surgery.

In addition to this, patients are allowed to have one person accompanying them, including parents of children. Of the 2836 permit applications to cross the Erez border, just under half were approved and 42% were delayed, with 9% having been denied.

Residents in the West Bank who also need medical attention abroad have had trouble with gaining access as well. The Israeli authorities received 16,936 applications to access health care in East Jerusalem and Israel. Eighty percent were approved.

Three security interrogations were undertaken by Israeli security forces. One 30 year old man with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; a 51 year old man with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; and a 49 year old woman who needed treatment for her breast cancer. All three were refused access approval.

The consequences of this process can sometimes be dire for patients when their access is denied or delayed. For example, the WHO report concludes by focusing on one case of a 13 year old boy. He was playing football near the wall. When he went to retrieve his ball he was shot by Israeli soldiers in the leg. His first application to leave Gaza for medical treatment was denied. In the meantime, while he was waiting for approval of his renewed application, his leg became infected. By the time he was able to reach the hospital in Ramallah, his situation had worsened to the point where he had to have his limb amputated, His life will forever be affected due to the decision of the Israeli authority.