Bulletin #68: WHO’s Executive Board discusses health conditions in Palestine

This fortnight

Israeli attacks on healthcare in the Gaza Strip are causing a near-total collapse of health services in central and southern Gaza, following a similar situation in the North. Health workers, patients, and displaced people are forced to move into smaller spaces amid bombardments and bad weather conditions, leading to the looming threat of infectious disease outbreaks, especially among children and pregnant women. 

Despite their predicament, health workers in Gaza remain steadfast, continuing to provide care even as supplies run short. However, they also continue to be targets of the Israeli Occupying Forces: many were kidnapped weeks ago, their status unknown, and over 400 have been killed in Israeli attacks.

The health situation in Gaza was addressed at the most recent meeting of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board. In addition to discussing the war on Palestine, WHO members covered topics such as the agency's finances, plans for responding to ongoing health emergencies, and climate change. They also dedicated time to evaluating progress made in the field of Universal Health Coverage and discussed the upcoming Pandemic Treaty.

Part of the WHO’s efforts are devoted to monitoring and responding to outbreaks. Unfortunately, the UN’s health agency noted an increasing number of cholera outbreaks worldwide, with African countries being the most affected.

Meanwhile, health workers continued their fight for dignity and improvements to their rights. In Andhra Pradesh, India, Anganwadi workers, who work in rural childcare centers, secured a major victory after more than 40 days of strike. In Morocco, nurses announced a new wave of actions as their contribution to the health system remains unrecognized by the government.

Most European countries are now facing a severe shortage of health workers. Health ministries and government officials are finally acknowledging the problem, but they have yet to move away from strategies rooted in care extractivism and the exploitation of the health workforce in the Global South.

In France, largely due to the efforts of women’s groups and left parties, the parliament has initiated a discussion about the constitutionalization of the right to abortion. If enacted, this would provide stronger formal protection for sexual and reproductive health rights, although it wouldn’t guarantee that reproductive health services are adequately financed and organized.

In focus: Health in Palestine

Healthcare in southern Gaza facing a fate similar to that in the North

Israeli Occupying Forces continue their attacks on healthcare in the Gaza Strip, moving towards hospitals and health centers in the central and southern regions

Israeli destruction of health infrastructure in Gaza places women and newborns in danger

All health services have been decimated by Israeli attacks, making it virtually impossible for people in need of urgent care, including women in labor, to reach hospitals and health centers

Fate of Palestinian health workers kidnapped by Israeli forces remains uncertain

The status of health workers arrested by Israeli Occupying Forces in northern Gaza remains uncertain as attacks on health infrastructure continue

In review: WHO Executive Board discussions

Will WHO members seize the moment to fight against inequities?

The WHO’s Executive Board is meeting for its 154th session in Geneva from January 22-27. Countries are edging towards the set deadline for finalizing the Pandemic Treaty, yet much more remains to be discussed

New round of Universal Health Coverage policies lies ahead despite missed targets

The WHO Executive Board is poised to propose enhanced Universal Health Coverage policies despite disappointing outcomes. UHC-based policies are failing in achieving the goals of increased access to healthcare and financial protection from health expenditure

Anganwadi workers in Andhra Pradesh declare victory after 42-day strike

Terming the strike as a “grand victory,” the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers said in a statement that it “proved the strength of the working people”

Nurses in Morocco call for recognition and respect

Nurses and medical technicians in Morocco are escalating industrial action, demanding adequate hazard pay, improvements to working conditions, and professional recognition

Europe struggles with health workers shortage but fails to address demands for decent salaries

Worries surrounding the health workforce shortage in Europe continues to grow, yet plans largely fail to include pay rises for workers in the sector

French parliament considers constitutionalization of right to abortion

Parliamentarians in France begin discussing a motion to enshrine the right to abortion into the constitution, offering stronger protections of women’s health rights

Short reads

Concerns grow over global cholera trends

The number of cholera cases worldwide continues to grow, with countries in eastern and southern Africa being the most heavily affected. Experts call for improving access to hygiene and clean water and are concerned about the shortage of vaccines

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