richard horton’s “Palestinians: The Medical Crisis”

In a survey completed by the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, over 90 percent of children below the age of eleven experience severe anxiety, nightmares, and physical expressions of stress, such as bed-wetting. Half fear that their parents will not be able to provide essential family necessities, such as food and a home. Forty percent have relatives who died during the second intifada, which began in 2000.

Access to health care is perhaps one of the most egregious casualties of apartheid and Richard Horton demonstrates this by detailing conditions at Beit Hanoun Hospital in Gaza. After speaking with the president of the Israeli Medical Association, Horton writes this:

I came away from my meeting with IMA officials in Tel Aviv convinced that they believed in the sincerity of their opinions and actions. But I am equally convinced that a few days spent traveling in the West Bank and Gaza, talking to Palestinian doctors and health workers, and listening to the experiences of Palestinian citizens would show them that their public statements, official assurances, and strongly promulgated arguments sadly count for very little alongside the horrific realities of daily life for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

After referring to health care problems resulting from the occupation (“Studies of perinatal and infant mortality show that checkpoints and military barriers frequently obstruct women seeking care during critical periods of labor and delivery”), Horton goes on to discuss Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), a group of about 1,500 Israeli physicians who view sending a mobile clinic into occupied territory as a protest against Israeli policies.

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