April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day, emphasizing the importance of developing and enhancing the quality of health services provided. Every year, a new strategy and plan for the health of people is adapted with a cumulative aim to improve the services provided by governments and countries to their citizens in terms of quantity and quality, in a manner that responds to scientific developments and operations in the health sector. Driving governments to allocate higher and broader budgets for the health sector.
On the occasion of World Health Day, HWC Salutes all Health Workers and Urges to Formulate a National Strategy to Fight Coronavirus
This year, this occasion was celebrated during the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern, prompting a global alarm and triggering many countries and organizations to adapt and implement emergency plans to face this rapidly spreading virus that is draining resources and exhausting individuals and social tolerance due to the constant increase of mortality rate among the elderlies and people with chronic diseases in countries with weaker health systems and countries who doesn’t have a health infrastructure that can cope with the additional strain of treating patients and managing the spread of the virus.
In this context, World health organization (WHO) emphasized that all countries and local communities can significantly work to slow the rapid spread of the virus and halt its spread, through implementing containment and effective control activities. Referring to the measures implemented in China that may be instructive for other countries now struggling to control the virus and demanding comprehensive community work and a cross sector collaboration to connect our respective areas of expertise and capacities across the private sector, governments and civil society in order to identify and provide care for all patients, manage their contacts, prepare hospitals and health clinics to handle the large increase of patients and train health workers.
The WHO is calling on individuals to contribute to limit the spread of the virus, as every effort to contain the virus and slow the spread saves lives and gives the health system and communities a valuable time necessary to implement multiple control and prevention methods. And gives researchers more time to seek potential COVID-19 treatment and vaccines.
On the Palestinian level, the city of Bethlehem has been placed in lockdown after the first Palestinian cases of the new coronavirus were discovered there and authorities announced a state of emergency. Similar procedures were then declared across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and Gaza Strip in order to contain the spread of the virus.
The Palestinian health system had a quick strategic preparedness and response plan in handling the current situation, and devotes great efforts in spreading awareness and education in facing this emerging crisis. Dr. Ahmad Al Maslamani Hospital in Beit Sahour had a huge role in detecting infected cases and reducing the extent of transmission or contact. Clinical staff and health centers had set up medical tents as a first line of defence to meet the urgent need for illness and identification and treatment. HWC also managed to provide health aid, sanitation and hygiene materials to marginalized areas, and provided phone counselling services with the help of professionals from different disciplines, along with spreading awareness materials through the media and social platforms and distributing awareness brochures to citizens and assisting in performing tests and detecting cases in the gradual return of Palestinian workers in Israel and Israeli colonial settlements.
HWC also has made its health centers and facilities available to the national health committee to treat coronavirus cases, and made Tubas hospital building to be used and equipped as a diagnosis treatment and quarantine facility for effected cases.
With the increasing number of infected persons and the report of one death in Palestine, this new virus presents particular dangers locally and internationally, as there is no known pre-immunity, no vaccines, no specific treatment and no ventilators. Not to mention, all the economic and social implications that is starting to appear because of the lockdown and because of the rise in prices for consumer goods and hygiene materials and sanitizers.
What’s making the coronavirus much worse for Palestinians is the Israeli occupation with its racist practices and imposed restrictions in East Jerusalem, area C, and the continuation of the siege in Gaza strip. Israel also refused to release five thousand prisoners amid the outbreak, whom are living in unsafe, unsanitary and disease-prone conditions. One prisoner contracted the virus from one of the Israeli jailers, which requires international Human Rights Associations and health organizations to interfere and pressure the occupation to stop these practices and release the prisoners.
One of the gaps that is threatening the health of the Palestinian community and causing more infected cases are the Palestinian workers who work in Israel and Israeli colonial settlements and the unfair and inhumane ways of treating the Palestinian workers at their workplaces. One case of Palestinian worker has been documented where the Israeli forces threw a Palestinian worker on the roadside despite his difficult health conditions and without informing him that he had the infection.
In World Health Day, HWC emphasize the following:
1. Our deepest appreciation for the work of nurses, midwifes, doctors and the Palestinian authorities for their bravery, courage and resolve during this difficult time. And to all Palestinian and Arabic media outlets for their role in covering this outbreak and reporting facts responsibly and correctly.
2. Joint action should be coordinated between the Palestinian government and the Ministry of Health to promote unified action plan and strategy between the Palestinian health sector.
3. Urgent interventions of international human rights organizations to release Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails.
4. The importance of finding an effective mechanism through creating a national governmental fund to help the poor cope with the loss of income during the lockdown and the Palestinian labor who rely on incomes from Israel or the settlements.
5. We urge all citizens to stay at home and follow the instructions and guidance of healthcare providers and local health departments.
6. COVID-19 should be a wake-up call to prioritize and invest in public health fund to be able to surge capacity and capability to respond to any future emergencies.
7. Secure the return of students and Palestinian citizens to Palestine in cooperation with other countries.
Protect yourself and others.
Stay home. Stay safe