Health For AllUrgent attention to Palestinian health: Qatar chairs WHO meeting

Urgent attention to Palestinian health: Qatar chairs WHO meeting

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The Executive Board (EB) of the World Health Organization (WHO) held yesterday the Special Session to consider the health conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in Geneva, under the chairmanship of the State of Qatar, represented by Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, and Chair of the Executive Board, which was held in-person and virtually through remote communication technologies.

The EB adopted a draft resolution submitted by 18 countries, including the State of Qatar, on the health situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In her speech at the opening of the special session, Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari said: “International humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention of 1949 and their Additional Protocols are concerned with the protection of the wounded, sick, medical and humanitarian personnel, medical facilities, means of transport and equipment.”

“Medical and humanitarian personnel, medical and humanitarian facilities must be respected and protected to ensure that the wounded and sick receive the medical care and attention they need,” Her Excellency added.

“We must work collaboratively with governments, non-state actors and humanitarian organizations to enforce international conventions in conflict zones, in order to prevent harm to civilians and health facilities as well as provide the necessary assistance to the millions of displaced people who need shelter, food, water and medical support,” she said. 

Addressing the participants in the work of the special session of the Executive Board, Her Excellency the Minister of Public Health and Chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization, said: “In the spirit of humanity and as a bridge to peace, I would like to appeal to all of you, we have witnessed great efforts to reach a consensus text, we all know that this text is not perfect, and that no text is perfect, but let us focus on our ultimate goal, which is to protect the health of all civilians in the current situation, and move forward with the aim of making it an instrument of health and peace.”

At the request of 16 Executive Board Member States, a special session convened to discuss health conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

At the end of the special session of the Executive Council to consider the health conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, HE Dr Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari thanked the participating countries for approving the resolution on the health situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Her Excellency said: “Your collective support underscores the urgent need to safeguard the sanctity of health facilities and protect healthcare workers.

This resolution also reaffirms our support for the World Health Organization in its attempt to preserve healthcare services in conflict zones and provide the necessary humanitarian aid to civilian populations.

“In light of this significant resolution, I call on all Member States to support WHO in its noble pursuit of safeguarding the health and well-being of our global community. This decision demonstrates our collective determination to ensure that healthcare remains a universal right even in the most challenging circumstances.”

Her Excellency urged all countries to join hands and cooperate closely in the implementation of this resolution, adding: “Only through unified action can we effectively translate these commitments into tangible actions that will protect health workers and guarantee access to essential health services for all affected populations.”

Her Excellency concluded her speech by urging collective commitment to uphold the right to health and shield health workers from harm as they fulfill their duty of saving lives.

In his closing remarks, H.E. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), praised the success of the WHO Executive Board in adopting the resolution, saying: ” You have achieved something that so far, Member States have not achieved in other fora: the first consensus resolution on the conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since it began two months ago. The adoption of the resolution is a starting point.” It does not solve the crisis. But it’s a platform on which to build.”

“Without a ceasefire, there is no peace,” he said. Without peace, there is no health. I urge all Member States, especially those with the greatest influence, to work seriously to end this conflict as soon as possible.”

Right to Health of Palestinians

One of the highlights of the resolution on the health situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is the reaffirmation of the responsibility of Israel, the occupying Power, to respect the right to health of all persons within the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to facilitate the immediate, sustained and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief, including access of medical personnel, the entry of humanitarian equipment, transports and supplies in all the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular  the Gaza Strip, and to grant exit permits to patients requiring medical treatment outside of the territory. Gaza Strip stressed the need for safe and unhindered passage of ambulances at checkpoints, especially in times of conflict.

The resolution called upon all parties to fulfil their obligations under international law to ensure the supply and replenishment of medicine and medical equipment to the civilian population, and to comply fully with the protection of civilians in armed conflict and medical personnel.

The resolution also demanded that Israel comply fully with its obligations to ensure respect for, and protection of all medical and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical functions, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities. It further called on Israel to facilitate a sustained, orderly, unimpeded, safe, and unobstructed passage of medical and humanitarian personnel to all those in need, as well as to respect and protect the wounded, sick and injured, and ensuring the safety, security, and safe movement of all Palestinian patients to receive medical needs and treatment.

WHO Mandate on Palestinian Health Crisis

The resolution requested the Director-General of WHO to report, based on field monitoring and assessment by WHO emergency teams, on the public health implications of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to make recommendations thereon to the one hundred and fifty-fourth session of the Executive Board, to the fourth meeting of the Standing Committee on Health Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response, and to the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly bearing in mind the legal obligation of the occupying power Israel.

Urgent Donor Conference

The resolution also requested WHO Director-General to convene an urgent donor conference to urgently fund urgent health needs as well as the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the health system in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, assess the extent and nature of mental health morbidity, strengthen, and continue to provide the necessary technical and material health assistance and further strengthen partnerships with other UN agencies to strengthen humanitarian health response capacities.

Also Read: WHO Addresses Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza Strip: Historic Consensus Reached in UN Resolution

The resolution called on the international community to secure adequate funding to support the immediate and future needs of WHO health programs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to rebuild the Palestinian health system, in full cooperation with WHO and relevant United Nations agencies.

The Executive Board expressed its grave concern at the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, in particular the military operations in the Gaza Strip, which have resulted in the death and injury of thousands of civilians, the majority of them children, women and the elderly, including humanitarian and health workers, in addition to the thousands of victims remaining under the rubble, stressed the need to protect all civilians, as well as the brutal destruction of health facilities.

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