Israeli restrictions and poor Palestinian management have created a health crisis in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank where mental health cases were up sharply and infant mortality rates fail to improve, a survey said.
The two-year study by researchers at the World Health Organisation, U.N. agencies and universities in the United States, Norway, France and the West Bank, showed a health system struggling to deal with a rising population and growing demand despite heavy Israeli blockade.
"The health situation ... shows the urgency of finding a political solution, as restraints and insecurities will continue to undermine the creation of a health infrastructure," former U.S. President Jimmy Carter commented in Thursday's The Lancet.
Many Palestinians found it hard to obtain care for chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer, tuberculosis rates rose by 58 percent between 1999 and 2003 while mental disorders were up by a third, the report found. More recent data was lacking.
Infant mortality rates have not fallen since the 1990s, unlike elsewhere in the region, and in parts of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip as many as 30 percent of children suffer from stunted growth due to prolonged food shortages, the survey found.
Health conditions in Gaza and the West Bank improved briefly during the 1990s before renewed conflict with Israel, the researchers said, although internal disputes between Palestinian factions in recent years erased many of those gains.
"Movement restrictions affect every aspect of Palestinian life," the researchers wrote. "These restrictions directly and destructively impact the social determinants of health."
More than half of Palestinian families live below the poverty line, the researchers said. Many struggle to access health services because of Israeli checkpoints and security barriers and many are forced to try to seek treatment in neighbouring countries such as Egypt or Jordan, they said.
"Socioeconomic conditions have deteriorated since the mid-1990s, with a humanitarian crisis emerging in the Gaza Strip and intensifying as a result of the Israeli army invasion in Dec. 2008 and Jan. 2009," they wrote in a joint statement.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Mart 2009, 12:29