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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les points forts du rapport de Médecins du monde

by P.B.

Highlights of the “Médecins du Monde” Health Report on the Gaza Strip

Translated Thursday 23 November 2006

The survey by the French NGO “Médecins du Monde” describes the state of health of the population living in the Gaza Strip, both before and during the Israeli military invasion “Summer Rain”, launched on 27 June 2006. (1)

In a report published recently, analyzing the health of patients who come to medical facilities in the Gaza Strip, Médecins du monde (MDM) assessed the population’s access to health care as well as the difficulties facing the health care teams since the beginning of 2006.

The analysis is based on data collected directly in the field during two stages of research by MDM France and run in Gaza by the local MDM health team. These surveys were done successively both before and during the cynically named Israeli military invasion “Summer Rain”: from 27-29 June 2006 for the first and from 3-8 July 2006 for the second survey. They were carried out on a total sample of 1,487 people. The research was divided in three parts: living conditions, access to health care and mental health.

The most revealing results of the overall situation before operation “Summer Rain”, and the deterioration since, are:

* Access to health care. At the beginning of June, 23% of patients took more than a week to get to a health post. Since the beginning of July, it takes, on average, four times longer. And 37% of these patients told us they are not going to health centers because they are afraid of traveling.

* General state of health of the population. In May 2006, the proportion of premature births in hospitals increased by 60%. 52.6% of patients were suffering from chronic problems, 93% of whom were receiving treatment. Psychological problems were increasing a lot, especially among children. Since June 2006, 84.7% of people in the sample had been faced with a traumatizing experience in the days previous to the consultation. 50% are not following their treatment because they cannot afford to.

* Work. 35% of those answering our questions said they did not have any work or regular income, 30% work in the informal sector. Generally, the rate of unemployment went from 21.8% in 2000 to 39.6% in 2006.

* Access to clean water. Before the 27 June Israeli “Summer Rain” invasion, 70% of people in the sample had access to running water. This percentage fell to 32.5% at the time of the Israeli raids and the supply of water to the health care system not enough to allow its proper functioning, and the supply has been periodically discontinued.

*Access to electricity. The destruction, on the first day of the “Summer Rain” operation of the Nuseirat power plant, which supplies electricity to Gaza, deprived the hospitals of power for several hours every day. Generators could not replace this lack of electricity, neither in people’s homes nor in health facilities.

* Access to food. Before the “Summer Rain” attacks, 40% of the people questioned ate less than three meals a day. Since the events of June 2006, more than 90% of this same sample have been eating less than three meals a day. The survey shows that 69% of the people could no longer afford three meals a day. The deterioration of the food situation can also be explained by the reduction of food stocks, and with the increase in food prices, by the frequent closing of the Karni Passage through which most staple food and goods arrive in Gaza, less local production and the poor conditions of food conservation due to power cuts.

Because of this worsening situation, MDM is launching an appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and to the “international quartet” (USA, the EU, Russia and the UN). MDM is demanding that “the UN restart the negotiations in favor of a peace plan that would lead to the creation of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living in peace and security alongside Israel and the other neighboring countries."

Translator’s Note:

See acompanying article: The Gaza Strip in a state of collective depression, an interview with Médecins du Monde president, Pierre Micheletti

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