7th December, Gaza On 4th and 6th December in Ramallah and Gaza, WHO conducted two strategy workshops on how to improve the right to health of Palestinians and how to strengthen a human rights-based approach to health in the West Bank and Gaza.
Dr Gerald Rockenschaub, Head of WHO Office in the occupied Palestinian territory, recognized the substantial challenges to realizing the right to health for Palestinians living under occupation. Violations of the right to health continue in the occupied Palestinian territory and there has been a decline in health service capacity in Gaza since the beginning of the blockade of Gaza in 2006. Beyond health services, Dr Rockenschaub emphasized how the underlying determinants of health are affected detrimentally by the enduring occupation facing Palestinians. There exist high rates of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity; many live in precarious conditions, facing risk of eviction, house demolitions and violence; and significant proportions of the population lack clean water and adequate sanitation.
Dr Rockenschaub stated: “The right to health means the realization of multiple rights and we must work together to uphold and protect these.”
Dr Amal Abu Awad opened the workshop in Ramallah and Dr Naim Sabra opened the workshop in Gaza on behalf of the Palestinian Minister of Health, Dr Jawad Awad. Both speakers emphasized the commitment of the Ministry of Health to upholding the right to health of Palestinians and the importance of Palestinian unity to ensuring the full realization of these rights.
The outputs of the workshop will form the basis of further efforts by the World Health Organization to both improve monitoring and accountability for upholding and protecting the right to health for Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as to strengthen a human rights-based approach to health within health services in the West Bank and Gaza.