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Med War. 1990 Apr-Jun;6(2):140-51.

The condition of health services in the Gaza Strip.

[No authors listed]


The Association of Israeli and Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights was established during the first months of the uprising, against the background of a severe situation in which people were killed and wounded daily. AIPPHR works for the protection of human dignity and human life; defending physicians and patients in a state of political conflict out of loyalty to the principles of universal morality which constitute an inseparable part of the medical profession. This report, which is the result of months of research and investigation, is aimed, among other purposes, at bringing reliable information to the knowledge of the medical community in Israel and the Israeli Medical Association (IMA)--the body which organizes them. The silence of the medical community in the face of the phenomena described above is foreign to the spirit of doctors and medicine. The association's activity is aimed at creating a change in this situation out of the belief that the silence on the part of a large section of the medical community in Israel stems from a lack of regular and reliable information. In order to describe the situation of the medical services in the Gaza Strip, one must note two contrasting trends: on one hand, there is advancement in the population's health conditions, which is expressed by a decline in the infant mortality rate (from 86/1000 in 1970 to 28.1/1000 in 1988); a decline in the number of cases of whooping cough among children (30.1 in 1970 in contrast to 0 in 1988); and a decline in the number of cases of polio (14.3 in 1970 in contrast to 1 in 1980). On the other hand, the tendency of stagnation must be noted, especially in the development of independent local health services. Medicine in the Gaza Strip has been during the entire period of the occupation, and remains, completely dependent on Israeli medicine. Modern equipment and modern medical technology have been at the service of the residents of the Gaza Strip in Israeli hospitals, but they were not given the chance to develop high-standard medicine in their own hospitals. The Gaza Strip population has no representation at the decision-making level on issues of budget, development and distribution of resources--which are completely in the hands of the Civil Administration and the Israeli authorities. During the uprising there was a steep rise in medical needs. Residents in need of medical services are completely dependent on the decisions of the military government and the state leadership and the giving of these services is tied to political, not medical/professional policy. Since the beginning of the uprising in the Occupied Territories, a new tendency has appeared; the use of medicine as an additional means of repression against the population. This means that medicine has been removed from the status of a basic human right and recruited as a means of punishment. This is a phenomenon which no physician or person of conscience can accept.

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