How is healthcare in Palestine

11 July 2022

Healthcare refers to the government and private healthcare providers available for the residents. There have been constant improvements in access to health care.

Advance in training, increased access to medical technologies have helped the healthcare. Even various governmental provisions have allowed the increase in the health of people. So, let’s understand how is healthcare in Palestine.

The healthcare is caring, educated and productive still struggles to provide adequate services. It is because of the interconnectedness to healthcare with education, food, and utilities. It is even connected to unemployment, poverty, conflict, and displacement of the region.

Impacts of Healthcare

The world bank reports poverty level of 26% in the region along with unemployment rate of 15% in west and 47% in Gaza. These difficult conditions are the shortcomings of the healthcare system making it challenging.

This doesn’t allow the Palestinians to access quality health care when they need it. Luckily, humanitarian and development programs help easing in the health care here.

Primary healthcare in Palestine

It deals healthcare in comprehensive physical, psychological, and social aspects. The essence is to provide care as a whole and the health needs of the citizens lifetime. Primary healthcare is not limited to group of diseases. It ensures people receive care from counseling to prevention of treatment.

What are the primary care services provided in Palestine?

There are 4 major healthcare providers in Palestinian territories. It includes Ministry of Health, UNRWA, NGOs and the private sectors. The major provider for primary care are Ministry of Health and UNRWA. The secondary care services providers are Ministry if Health and NGOs.

Are there hospitals in Palestine?

Currently Palestinian territories has 60 hospitals and medical centers within the region. Number of medical research institutes pursuing medical advances will help the healthcare here. Various studies related to cancer, Parkinson’s disease and stem-cell research is growing here.

Health Infrastructure

Health system lacks enough infrastructure to serve people in need of medical care. Restriction on imports has left the hospital with shortage of supplies. They don’t have enough medical equipment, prescription drugs, over the counter medicines.

The conflicts left the hospitals and clinics in disrepair. Restrictions on goods make it difficult to buy supplies for rebuilding. The personal infrastructure is limited.

It suffers from shortage of family medicine doctors, especially in children’s healthcare. Fields such as neurology, oncology, pediatric surgery, and psychiatry suffer heavy shortages.

Shortages arise as doctors wanting to specialize need to leave Palestine for training. Many of them later do no return once the education is complete. Medical care in West Bank and Gaza suffers from physician shortages.

Healthcare for children in Palestine

The main healthcare provider is Palestinian Ministry of Health here. They give primary care services for children up to 5 and secondary care in hospitals. The ministry of health operates 24 of 78 hospitals and there are several other providers too.

  • UNRWA that provides primary healthcare for Palestinian refugees.
  • NGOs are major provider in tertiary care services in Jerusalem. They also offer secondary care services and to lesser extent primary health care.
  • Palestinian Red Crescent provides ambulance services and some clinics.
  • Private sector covers private doctors, and it is the new sector in providing health care here.
    There is a lack of co-ordination between all these sectors. Also, there is severe deficiency for child protection, mental health, and child disability. There is even the shortage of medical staff in family practice sector.

Health problems of Palestinian children

The health profile of children represents the population affected by poverty and migration. These children are even affected by conflicts and environmental degradation. 40% of the population is under 18 years. The population growth rate is very high at over 3%.

Causes of morbidity

Palestinian are affected by ongoing burden of living under siege and chronic stress. The children here are under stress due to violence against the nation. Malnutrition has been increasing and it has risen to 13%. In Gaza 56% of the population are under food insecure compared to 25% in West Bank.

Mental Health

The study finds 93% children experience feeling of threatened, loss of security. Parents reports psychological symptoms in children. It includes nightmares, aggressive behavior, hyperactivity, low attention, and concentration.

Adolescents have collective and individual exposure to violence and negative impact on health. The level of exposure to trauma and violence is very high.

The determinants of health problems
The causes of Palestinian problems are occupation, internal governance failures, absence of resources. It even includes actions and inactions of communities, aid dependency and epidemiological transition.

There is a limitation in access to healthcare, food, electricity, and housing. Occurrence of violence impacts the children as well as the adults.

New Initiative in healthcare

A training program is developed with the help of Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health in UK. It helps to enhance capacity among the doctors, therapists, nurses, and community workers.
The aim of this program is to improve the quality of primary care which was imperfect. There is potential for effective and high-quality healthcare in Palestine. Though the constraints place a limitation on achieving this goal.

It is the responsibility of health workers and others to show the solidarity. They must advocate for the removal of occupation and develop an independent state.