UN concerned at rapidly deteriorating health services in Palestinian territories

UN concerned at rapidly deteriorating health services in Palestinian territories

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Worried by the rapid deterioration of Palestinians’ access to adequate medical services due to a financial crisis and a strike by unpaid workers, the United Nations health agency has called on the parties concerned to reach an agreement guaranteeing essential medical care.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) also urged the international community to support the Palestinian health sector “in this critical phase.” The crisis follows the election victory in January of Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction, when Israel stopped handing over tax and customs revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and international donors suspended direct aid.

WHO is very concerned about the announced reduction of services and the deterioration of vital medical services,” the agency’s Head of Office for the West Bank and Gaza, Ambrogio Manenti, said in a statement yesterday.

“This will further exacerbate the already difficult humanitarian situation affecting Palestinian lives and their right to enjoy the highest possible level of physical and mental health,” he added.

Lacking funds, the PA has been unable to pay regular salaries since March. Health workers have since received provisional allowances through the Temporary International Mechanism established by the European Union (EU) but they joined a general open-ended strike in August demanding full payment.

WHO cited a September statement by the so called diplomatic Quartet that the resumption of transfers of tax and customs revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the PA would have a significant impact on the Palestinian economy.

The Quartet, comprising the UN, EU, Russia and the United States, has called on Hamas to commit to non-violence, recognize Israel and accept agreements already signed between Israel and the Palestinians, in order to permit a resumption of international funding.