Why are we there?
- Armed conflict
- Palestine: The fight against hopelessness
- Interview with MSF head of mission in Gaza as 'Pillar of Defense' continues
- MSF’s emergency response to operation 'Pillar of Defense' in the Gaza Strip
This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.
The Israeli embargo, the financial crisis and the chronic lack of cooperation between Palestinian authorities have all contributed to a deterioration in the public health system in Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Exposure to violence resulting from intra-Palestinian and Israeli–Palestinian conflict has medical, psychological and social consequences, but people have difficulty accessing the care they need. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) programmes aim to address the gaps in the Palestinian health system.
Surgery in Gaza
In the city of Khan Yunis, MSF surgical teams make regular visits to Nasser hospital to carry out specialist procedures not usually available to people living in Gaza. Most patients are children with burns.
The post-operative care programme, set up to reduce the level of disability after injury, focuses on wound dressing and physiotherapy. In 2012 the team began to offer specialist hand rehabilitation, and provided training in cardiac physiotherapy.
Emergency response to operation ‘Pillar of Defence’
MSF’s post-operative care clinic remained open throughout Israel’s military operation in November.
The mobile field hospital within the Nasser hospital compound was converted to receive the injured and conduct minor surgery, and an emergency medical team was sent to Gaza. Drugs and medical supplies were donated to the central pharmacy, and medical kits to treat the wounded were distributed to hospitals.
Mental health support
In Nablus, Hebron, MSF offers medical, psychological and social support to people affected by conflict. In 2012, the number of psychological consultations increased by 50 percent.
In East Jerusalem, where MSF provides psychological and social services, patient numbers tripled, and almost half of patients were under 18-years-of-age. Anxiety-related conditions, depression, behavioural issues and post-traumatic stress were all common.
At the end of 2012, MSF had 96 staff in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. MSF has been working in the country since 1989.
In March 2008, Fatima, Mohammed and their three children were evicted from their home by the Israeli army.
“Because of what happened to our house, the children were affected. One of them started to stammer; the teacher wasn’t able to understand him.
"All three children started wetting the bed. An MSF counsellor sat with the children and helped calm them down, and I learned how to deal with the children at night.
"I myself felt anxious, but the counsellor also helped me deal with psychological issues.”