PHM solidarity mission in Gaza: Meeting with WHO Gaza

Chiara Bodini (Italy) and Wim De Ceukelaire (Belgium) are on a PHM solidarity mission in Gaza and were received by Dr. Mahmoud Daher, head of the WHO Gaza office.

Gaza is in a situation of protracted emergency, where access to health is under great pressure.

They conveyed the solidarity of the movement with the people of Gaza and gave him a copy of the Global Health Watch 4. This is his address in response to health activists abroad:

"Gaza is in a situation of protracted emergency, where access to health is under great pressure. The political situation and the insecurity deprives people of their rights, including health professionals who have gone without salaries for months. There are delays in supplies due to the siege, and of course services are greatly damaged. 

Gaza has suffered from a de-development process in the past ten years, with great impact on the health sector. The population is growing, but no new facilities have been built, while 60 have been damaged or destroyed in the last attack, including one rehabilitation hospital and 6 PHC centres. 16.000 people per year try to exit Gaza to seek health care, but 20% are not able to do so and others have to suffer great delays. This would not happen if movement was guaranteed for people and goods, if normal life was granted to people.

Then, of course, there are the social determinants of health: poverty, unemployment, lack of infrastructure. From 1994 to 2000 in Gaza there was good advancement on those issues, afterwards all deteriorated due to the siege. Access to water is problematic.

People have to prioritize income for food, water and health, and they don't have any budget for anything else. This puts a great burden on our dignity, creating continuous stress, frustration, humiliation, depression. All this is health by the WHO definition. Also spiritual health is affected: people are denied the right to pray in Jerusalem, Christians can apply for permit to go pray only on Christmas and Easter, muslims only if they're older than 60 years.

Life is affected in all aspects in this open air prison. Still, people have hope for peace. All media stigmatize Palestinians as terrorists. The struggle of people for freedom and peace is not seen, and this too is health. Health is our humanity and the contribution we can make to society. Global health is all of that."